Approaching Writeside-Up

Writing is a form of therapy; sometimes I wonder how all those who do not write, compose or paint can manage to escape the madness, melancholia, the panic and fear which is inherent in a human situation.

Graham Greene


Graham Greene’s quote is a grand truth for many of us. It took years to realize the strings of words and images of scenes invading my head weren’t gross indicators of a shattering sanity. Nor were they a daydreamer’s launch into something less mundane or threatening than the situation before them. They belonged to characters demanding a voice to express what worried and confused my world; what elated and devastated.

Throughout the seventies, poetry and short stories during the turbulent teen years came with ease. Like so many other things at that age, emotions floated a micron below the surface. Their expression required no coaxing. My creative antennae were finely tuned to the whisperings.  But advancing years and layers of complicated life experiences muffled those voices. Never silenced them but enforced restraint.  Longer short stories replaced poetry during moments of solitude. During those times of aloneness, I heard the susurrations clearly and saw the settings with movie-like clarity.

Not until the frayed edges of my world began to unravel at speed did their volume increase and images flash with great regularity, greater intensity. A friendly push began the spewing of what invaded my mind onto the page. Never once did I consider asking: Where does one start? How do I write a novel?

By way of osmosis, of course. That gradual, automatic absorption of ideas and knowledge and acceptable principles learned through the million pages of fiction, good and bad, read over the years. While immersed in the act of storytelling, that adolescent freedom returned until those final words, THE END, graced the bottom of the page. 

I now cringe at such misplaced logic. The painful editing process highlighted the deficits in my skill at the art of crafting a story. But not all was lost. The bones of the tale had merit. The characters required fleshing out and refining. The taming of overwriting and understanding the show versus tell balance required more how-to knowledge. The painstaking chore of tightening the writing, banishing filler words, adverbs, and passive writing devoured time and patience.

More importantly, my free-spirited heart argued with the internal editor, who comprehended the need for a compass to keep the story from losing its way or being riddled with potholes and complications. A compromise ensued. The notion of months of preplanning and plotting faced a quick death; however, we settled on a concept-to-premise-to-short synopsis building approach, along with the development of character worksheets. In NaNoWriMo terms I became a Plantser.

The biggest take away from those early years was a realization that without an open mind to learn, a willingness to accept trusted criticism, and my drive toward perfection, I’d never have maintained my sanity or approached Writeside-Up in my storytelling efforts.  

How about you? I’d love to hear how you first approached writing. Was it a blind dive into the creative waters or did you enroll in formal study, workshops, or search how-to writing sites on the internet?

Thanks for listening. Cheers.

S. C. Roberts



3 thoughts on “Approaching Writeside-Up

  1. Thanks for these insightful articles. My journey started much the same. To escape boredom and frustration. Had little knowledge about the writing process. I’ll be watching . Maxine


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