Welcome back to the first installment of Obsession of the week!
Today’s topic is writing. Why writing? Well, I recently started writing again and I’ve been devouring books in a faster than usual pace the last few weeks.
I grew up with a mother who prides herself in being a writer/scholar and with a father who always encouraged me to read anything from the daily newspaper to classic novels. Reading quickly became one of my favorite pastimes. The characters from my favorite books became constant companions sitting just a few meters away. Books challenged my way of thinking, reinforced my feelings about things or simply made me laugh. And they still do.
My favorite first sentence is from Nick Hornby’s great book “Fever pitch”: “I fell in love with football as I was later to fall in love with women: suddenly, inexplicably, uncritically, giving no thought to the pain or disruption it would bring with it.”
This is not only exactly how I feel about football, but also how I feel about stories and literature. Naturally, the next step on my path was to start writing on my own.
I started writing in German at the age of 13, using the world of the PC RPG “Gothic” as a backdrop for the story of my awesome archer character. I posted stories with friends to a forum regularly for five years, eventually branching out into Harry Potter fan fiction and short stories for persons dear to me. But after graduating high school I suddenly stopped as other interests took over my life.
During my unhappy time in the corporate world the thought of writing came back to me. I realized how much I missed it. But getting back was more difficult than anticipated. While ideas come easily to me, sitting down and actually typing out words requires a lot of effort and willpower. As a chronic procrastinator, starting is the most challenging step. A few weeks ago my thoughts were scrambling all over the place. I decided to focus and to write a story to distract myself. The result is “An elusive hero”. After putting the first chapter to paper, I was able to anchor my thoughts. But continuing proved to be almost as difficult as beginning. However, I found a solution: thanks to the rigorous schedule put out yesterday (see here), I have an incentive to write as much and as well as possible. But why do I write?
I’ve always been a firm believer in making the world a better place. One way to improve the world is to make the actual world a better place by i.e inventing new technology, saving lives as a doctor or bringing peace to war-torn countries. But another way is to provide an escape from the real world for a few hours. This gives readers (also movie-goers and gamers) time recharge their batteries and to get inspired to face the uphill battles in their lives. Or it simply gives them a reason to smile. Books can change the way you view the world and make the sun shine brighter. Words are one form of magic. An author may put down ideas on paper, but it is the reader who brings them to life in her or his mind. Great stories take you in and stay with you forever. I’m still waiting for my letter from Hogwarts.
Writing is an incredible experience. Yes, it can be frustrating to type out your thoughts and find that the words don’t really match the words in your head (the main reason I’m still on Chapter 1). But it gives you the ability to create characters you’ve always wanted to meet (or avoid), to craft dialogues full of wit (or sorrow) or to conjure entire worlds just by a stroke of your pen or keyboard.
Developing a story and seeing it’s content find its way onscreen or on paper is an exhilarating journey. I spent a lot of my childhood playing with friends (real and imagined) pretending to be a superhero, James Bond or multi-million dollar mogul. Writing takes me back to those days of fun and freedom.
There are a lot of ways to start writing as a hobby. All you need to start is a computer and a word processing program. Or a notebook and a sturdy pen. Personally, I’ve never attended a writing class but it definitely is on my bucket list. To ease into the process of storytelling, you can use an existing world or IP by participating in forum RPGs or by posting fan fiction. The characters and some of the traits are given, so you can focus on the description of what you want to happen to them. I only recently gathered enough confidence to establish a world of my own. When it comes to non-fiction writing, a good idea is to start with things you feel passionate about. Sharing your texts is by no means a must. But I believe that by giving your thoughts and stories to the world, you can only improve your skills and stories. Someone will enjoy what they’re reading. And bringing a bit of pleasure to a stranger is never wrong. I can only encourage you to do it and find out if you find pleasure in writing.
So, now you know what I’m obsessing about this week: Writing. Feel free to share your thoughts on writing or to show some of your works in the comment section!
I’m also very grateful for any feedback in the comments, via e-mail or on twitter @AlbertGubler! See you Friday.
PS: For anyone interested in my older stories in German, feel free to check out “Tagebuch eines Schattens” (the last story I wrote before stopping).