I recently had the opportunity to spend whole blocks of time just writing. It was glorious. I’m quite annoyed I hadn’t tried that before at all.
It was too good to last though. I haven’t had the opportunity to do any writing over the past couple of months. But I’m rather glad I had the opportunity for at least a couple of months. I now know I can spend days writing, and it is actually good for me, and any fears I might have had about getting jaded or burning out, or growing to hate writing, are unfounded at this point… I think I’ll have to output a novel-sized body of writing to get there. And there’s no danger of that happening anytime soon.
I found I don’t like the kind of writing I originally aimed for – I am possibly not a novelist. Years of blogging has made me comfortable with the idea of writing memoirs, but I am by no means good at it right now. I like being given prompts that make me reminisce and write about things I’ve experienced and done. But coherence isn’t a defining trait of that writing, and if I actually decide to write a memoir, that’s something I’ll have to work hard on.
The other issue with writing memoirs is, I lack the ease with which several other bloggers rivet their readers. Their leaps of logic and faith and succinctness doesn’t come naturally to me. Most writers seem to jump to the kind of writing style that works for Hussain Zaidi, and I personally get rather annoyed with that kind of writing, and instead aim for an Agni Sridhar-ish style. I lack his erudition and am not a born raconteur as he was.
Novels are just not my thing. I don’t like the long gestation period, and stories of that size feel too heavy for me to think about. I don’t like how I have showing is much, much harder than telling in that medium. Novels don’t lend themselves to crispness and snappiness easily.
Besides, writing something of that size is incredibly lonely. It is easy to keep writing, but it’s hard to write on point. It feels like it’s a billion tiny pieces of an incredibly large jigsaw puzzle that doesn’t fit in my mind. And it’s hard to keep receiving feedback, if you don’t have an editor.
I do rather like coming up with short stories, but again, I dislike how hard it is to communicate mood while showing and not telling.
What I really like is screenplays and sketches. Some people do it so easily, especially those who are also performers. I don’t have the luxury of being part of a group of performers yet, so in the absence of the kind of environment where I can collaborate, discuss, perform and have it all feed into my writing, I like going for shorter length on those things, which can fit quite comfortably in my head. I like writing ads and other kinds of sketches that last under four minutes.
I would ideally like to write longer, layered sketches that have interlinked jokes and callbacks and that wrap themselves up better. That requires collaborators, because things like that won’t come easily without someone else to hash things out with.
I rather like the idea of screenplays. They feel like novels with more show than tell. I find it easier to write scenes with screenplay-like directions because I can just write it as I see it in my head. With a novel, there’s this translation of a scene playing out in your head to words, and there’s quite a bit that gets lost in transit. There are different challenges with a screenplay, but the format makes it so much easier to get started and go somewhere with a story than when you’re limited to just prose.
A good compromise seems to be a graphic novel. It’s much less effort to actually get things going, provided you have someone to illustrate your panel ideas. The format also comes intuitively given I’ve been raised on a diet of Tinkle anyway.
I also like writing standup bits. Desk jokes and one-liners come easily. I’d ideally like to write for Weekend Update or something like that, though that’s a little more boring than an action-packed sketch where things happen.
I really need to improve how I write dialogue. I try to listen to how people talk and I’m constantly surprised by how different it is from how people in movies talk.
So… yeah, I need to religiously spend time on writing, because I’ve kind of figured out what I want out of it. Now it’s all about gaining enough confidence to write longer and longer stuff. Hopefully something good will come out of it!