Friday, February 13, 2015
Develop Your Own Vision
That quote is from a professional travel photographer. But it can also apply to you as a writer. Although with writing, depending on what type of writing you do, developing a vision all your own can be a challenge.
In the beginning, it’s hard to imagine where you want to go with your writing. Perhaps you may get in a quandary over whether to write non-fiction or fiction. Most writers decide this early in their careers. It’s a natural passion that comes from deep inside you. Some writers start out writing non-fiction, for example—maybe working in the newsroom of their local paper—but soon tire of constantly having to dig up facts. For them, creating life on paper is more of a challenge.
It’s also possible that you may go in both directions. If you’re a good writer, you should be able to write just about anything, once you know the format of what you want to write. But in the beginning, it’s best to not to waffle back and forth. Pick one direction—fiction or non-fiction—and stick with it.
Beyond that general direction, developing a personal vision is tough. As it turns out, fiction writers have a better chance of doing that. Successful ones usually have a vision of what they want to produce and stick to that path.
But if you’re a non-fiction writer, your work is tied more to the style of each publication for which you’re writing. Each publication has its own reader demographics. To be a successful non-fiction writer, you have to target the readers of each publication, so your writing will constantly have to change to adapt to each group of readers. While fiction writers also have to write for their readers, they do so to a much broader group that’s enjoys reading a particular genre of writing—science fiction, mysteries, westerns, romance, etc.
Don’t confuse vision with style. Style is how you express yourself on a particular subject. It takes in not only vocabulary, but sentence structure, punctuation, and general form. As a writer, you will eventually develop your own style. It takes years of practice before that begins to appear. And besides practice, you’ll study other writers that you admire for technique.
Vision, on the other hand, is about how you want others to perceive you as a writer. It encompasses not only the type of writing you do, but how that writing affects your readers. For instance, let’s say you’re a natural teacher. Then your writing may seek to inform readers, in which case, you’ll probably become a successful non-fiction writer or journalist. But if you imagine that your writing will spark the imaginations of your readers, then fiction will probably be for you.
In the case of Jeremy Horner, the photographer quoted above who specializes in travel photography, vision is all about how he interprets the world he sees on his travels—it’s landscapes, its landmarks, its people. How you interpret the world through your writing is your vision. If you enjoy making the past come alive, then recreating history is your vision.
And just like style, vision takes a while to develop. It won’t come to you in an instant but will smolder in your work. But then the light bulb will flash on, and you’ll have an “ah ha” moment. That’s when you’ll begin to see how you want to make your mark on the writing world.