To Build a Reason | Writing With Confidence
XPress Access | December Edition
Here at The Storyletter, we’re testing out better avenues for helping new and upcoming writers. One way is our paid newsletter, which enables us—as a new publisher—to share our journey and assist you in navigating the writing industry.
In our monthly XPress Access posts, we share meaningful messages and lessons we’ve learned. The reason for the paywall is to build community around The Storyletter itself, a way to get closer with other like-minded readers and writers. Another reason is to cover our expenses with the help of your financial support, which is vital and greatly appreciated.
This past year we’ve been running a series called “To Build”, placing an emphasis on the very basics of starting out as an independent writer online. If you’d like to read the topics we’ve covered, here’s the list so far:
December’s topic will be an introspective examination into how I approach writing and how to be more intentional when speaking (or, in this context, typing). In this vein, let’s move right along to our first section where I explain what I mean.
Why write in the first place?
I’m a 90’s kid who had an overactive imagination growing up. I used to pretend I was the T-Rex chasing the Jeep in Jurassic Park for years after watching that movie. Other movies like The Matrix introduced me to the world of martial arts that would lead to my obsession with East Asian cinema for well over a decade.
Movies had been the conduit through which I engaged with stories for the longest time. As the games industry progressed, that, too, became a highly-engaging form of storytelling that transcended a lot of what Hollywood produced in terms of immersive worldbuilding. Stories like Bioshock and The Last of Us are meant to be experienced in that medium, hence why most game-to-movie adaptations tend to flop right out of the gate. There are exceptions, of course, but they are few and far between.
Reading was never a huge part of my childhood. It’s not that I didn’t read, it was that the books I picked up weren’t as engaging as I needed them to be. Not like how the opening scene of a Bond movie might hook you right from the get-go. To this day, I enjoy watching a good movie with someone that hasn’t seen the movie yet, vicariously experiencing it all over again as if for the first time. Something about it activates that “shared experience” aspect that I deeply resonate with.
The best series I read as a kid wasn’t Harry Potter, but one from Scholastic called Deltora Quest by Emily Rodda. The artwork on the front of each book was always of an imposing antagonist that our young heroes would have to overcome—boom, instantly hooked. The page count wasn’t intimidating either like the later HP books. They were easily digestible and perfect for my dog-level attention span.
It wasn’t until later that I realized the reason I liked Deltora Quest so much wasn’t that it was easier to read and had cool artwork (despite those being huge bonuses), it was because it was specifically Fantasy. It took me to a world that I, myself, wanted to create and be a part of. It engaged parts of my imagination that only movies and games had successfully achieved up until that point.
The two books that made me want to be a writer were The Way of Shadows by Brent Weeks, followed immediately by Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson. They opened my eyes to worlds of possibility in a medium I hadn’t seen the value in until then. After those books, I understood that there were other ways of telling the grand stories I wanted to tell besides the big screen. Writing fiction would become the preferred mode in which I would share my imagination with the rest of the world.
That set me down the path I’ve been navigating for 13 years now. I wish I had all the answers to writing better and faster, but I don’t. However, I can share what I’ve learned about myself and how I’ve come to improve my craft over that period, and, hopefully, I can save you the time it took me to figure it out.
I write because it’s the most accurate way to get the stories I want to tell out of my head. It’s cheap, it’s effective, and it’s easily accessible. The best part is that your imagination is being engaged in the process, connecting with mine on a deeper level than with a movie or a video game. It’s a shared experience, one that involves the reader just as much as the writer; a symbiotic relationship.
And I wouldn’t have it any other way.