Monday, 4 April 2011

Formula writing

I am not spouting out diatribe against formulaic writing here, I am simply writing about my inability to produce writing with strict adherence to formulas.

All the essays I wrote that were successful while I attended college were so because I was following my own line of thought - and the examiners seemed to like that. In the final exam - 'the Gothic' - I stumbled because the answers required definite answers and carefully outlined ideas about what they expect you to write.

And that's something I can never do: write for others. Not only is the concept anathema to me, but I am incapable of doing so. I can pour out ideas and thoughts that I have in my head - which, yes, I want others to read - but I don't have an understanding of how to pander to others by making it appealing, or writing for a specific 'readership'.

I find the idea of 'good writing' absolute bollocks - well-plotted out ideas, clarity, good syntactical constructions. Many publishers put an emphasis on all this and shun originality, meaning that literary establishment gushes out the same material time and time again.

If anything I am deeply envious of people whose writing is more adaptable and flexible; those who can write in a number of registers, styles, genres, etc. That's why my writing is so reiterative and repetitive: I am not capable of writing in a specific style. That's one of the most frequent criticisms I get on the internet: that I re-emphasise points to the point of exhaustion, that I am 'all the same'. I attribute this to my inability to adhere to formulas.

A lecturer I had mentioned that "I am an academic at heart" because of the "range and depth" of my "personal studies and interests." As much as I'd like to agree with this, this isn't true. My work simply has no range; maybe thematically, but not in terms of the writing.

I find that the more emphasis one puts on formulas, the less original material appears. It is those who write what they want, with little regard to predetermined formulas, who end up producing the most innovative work and broaden the horizons of what's possible in literature.

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