Photo credit: Oil on canvas/Vladmir Kush
JUST like every other excerpt that I’ve written down in my notebook and then posted on here, I feel like this is very important knowledge and it has to be shared. I took this from the beginning of a TED talk (video at bottom of page) that is on YouTube. It’s probably the best writing advice ever. Originally it was for writing fictional stories, but I really do think that it can apply to any kind of writing style:
Writing a story is taking the path of most resistance. You dip your pen in the ink and you begin at the edge of a cliff. You sit and try to express what is inexpressible, and that makes you nervous. You know that every story is a failure but you also know the writer is the one who is not stopped or even phased by failure, and that makes you fearless. You begin not knowing where you’re going to end up, but trusting in your imagination and in the writing process to get you there.
Write about what you don’t understand. What you don’t know is more important than what you know because that’s what engages your sense of wonder. You sit and you insist on meaning but not on answers. The point is not to answer but to question. Not to solve but to seek. Not to preach but to explore. And you also know this: that life is stranger than fiction because fiction has to make sense.
—How To Write A Story by: John Dufresne
“What you don’t know is more important than what you know” — that is just so perfect. Wisdom everybody should witness. I can’t get over the last sentence either. It’s so pure and enlightening. It’s so stimulating to hear someone else say that life does not have to make any sense because it never will. Life is too short to have a definite message. I have to admit though, while I write about the news and economics — about reality — it’s very punishing because it doesn’t seem to be factual at times. The concept that our barbaric history has actually happened, is sometimes too thorny to grasp. Maybe our brains are too small for that kind of reasoning yet, I don’t know.
Whenever I do write either non-fiction or fiction, a poem or whatever — I do feel this need to mean something. I have always had certain ideas that I need to work out in a story of some kind… It never matters what the medium they are in — meaning in either fiction, non-fiction, blog, poem or screenplay form… That part of the writing process just flows from the idea. I figure out if it is non-fiction or fiction and go from there.
I’m learning everyday that the purpose of writing is to express a notion so that others can interpret it. A writer gets no answers from reading their own writing either, because we are supplying the questions. Readers are providing the answers. That’s why we all have to write about the things that we aren’t that intimate with, because then we are trying something exotic — something new. That’s what art is all about: taking risks and inspiring others.♦♦