Finding My Form

I think finding the right form is important for any writer. Just like an athlete has to pick what kind of sport to dedicate themselves to, a writer needs to know what form fits them best.

When I was growing up, I loved the short story. Like many kids, I had a short attention span, and the time and patience it took to write a short story was something I found favorable. “You mean all I have to do is write a couple of paragraphs! Cool!” was my thinking at that age.

But somewhere at the end of high school and the beginning of college I stopped writing. I mean I was still writing, but I wasn’t really Writing (with a capital W). If that makes sense. Sometimes writers just write to pass the time. Kinda like an uninspired basketball player still shooting hoops long after their career is over. That’s what I did for a while.

Towards the back-end of college, I returned to Writing by dabbling in playwriting. Most of my work reflected the plays I was reading. (I was a Drama major.) Some Shakespeare and Greek Tragedy, but mostly contemporary realistic dramas or political dramas. Secretly, I thought: bo-ring! But professors and mentors seemed to have me convinced me that realistic fiction plays were the way for me to go.

I loved having long monologues about what the character’s were thinking, and sometimes that just doesn’t work in a play. A play needs action, it needs conflict, and it usually needs all of that right away. A play is also very short. Which, in a way, worked for my college student short attention span (very much like my kid’s short attention span). With research papers that needed writing, books that needed reading, and final exams to study for, a play offered an easy breezy way to experiment with words and stories.

By the time I had rounded up my senior year of college, I had inhabited the “one-man show” form. Which is when you write one REALLY BIG monologue that also has to have the elements of a play:  action and conflict. Without them, yeah, your one-person show will be pretty dull.

In the “one-man show” format there was no cohesive story that could really be followed or developed. It’s all: character speaks, next character speaks, then the next one… Or, if your writing for one character, it’s:  this happened, then this happened, then… Basically it’s just no fun.

And I missed one of the things I love the most about reading when I was kid: magic. College professors seem to despise the word, unless it ends in “-al realism.” As in Magical Realism.

But what the heck does that mean? Just call it what it really is! Adult Fantasy. Maybe they don’t call it that because people will think its boring. And it is boring.

Anyways… What I’m trying to say is that trial and error led me to a form that fit me…

Short story: Too short.

Plays: Too superficial.

Essay: Too straightforward. (Where are all the delicious metaphors?)

Performance Art/One-man Show: Too one-dimensional.

Poetry: Like it. Write it occasionally to help workout the creative muscles. But I it’s not my form because I don’t like to be too cryptic. My joy is a good story remember? Not how fancy my language is, although it is a welcome bonus!

Novel: Love it. Just right!

and then…

Non-fiction: Love to read, but not to write. I’m power-hungry, I need to be able to unleash my wrath on a character when and where I want to.

Realistic Fiction: Isn’t this just non-fiction with fewer limitations? Key word:  limitations. I don’t like them as a writer.

Fiction:  Yes, I am all-powerful and omnipresent! I can make you fly at the wink of my eye! Now that’s fun!

Hence, I am writing a fiction novel. Whenever I write, it feels like I’m putting my feet into cosy slippers. That’s a good thing, because I’m gonna be with this book for a looong time.

Are you a writer looking for her or his form? Here’s a hint that might help you find it: What do you secretly love to read?

Chances are, that’s what you love to write. You might be thinking: “That’s silly. I can’t possibly write that! People will judge me!” Would you rather be “approved” of and feel lost and frustrated in a from that doesn’t fit you? Or would you mind being “judged” while you write in the form you love?

It’s your choice. Follow what’s fun!

much love,

Ollin

To follow the Courage 2 Create and find out what happens to Ollin and his novel, you can subscribe by inserting your e-mail into the subscription box in the top right corner of the sidebar! Subscription is completely free! Thank you for subscribing!

Like Courage 2 Create’s Fan Page.

Follow Ollin On Twitter.

Friend Ollin On Facebook.

7 comments on “Finding My Form

  1. I’m glad you’ve found your form!

  2. Lua says:

    I begun my writing journey with short stories…🙂 In high school, I loved reading them and eventually I began writing my own short stories… My creative writing workshop teacher was a famous writer for his short stories so I guess he influenced me a little as well…
    By the time I was in collage I noticed that my “short” stories weren’t so short anymore, they just kept grew longer and longer and I began having difficulties squishing my ideas into that form- but writing novels… that seemed too scary at the time so just like you, I stopped Writing- with a capital W for a while🙂
    When I finally realized that not Writing wasn’t an option, I build up my courage to try and write a novel… It wasn’t easy and I had to work twice as hard but I think novels are the way to go for me… I still love reading short stories, and occasionally I write them, but my major project is my novel🙂
    Like you said, it’s all about try and finding the form that you feel comfortable writing and that is usually the form you love reading the most…

    • Ollin says:

      Yup. I don’t think most people realize that that is one of the writer’s first journey’s–just find the right FORM to write in. I thought I was supposed to write realistic fiction for a long time. That got me stuck, because now I realize I didn’t want to write realistic fiction! lol. When I realized it was fantasy that I wanted to write, I was able to start.

      Thanks for the comment Lua!🙂

  3. Ken Kiser says:

    Looks like you are a novelist at heart to me. Eventually, you will find that special narrative voice, and then that first novel of yours will spill from a vein onto the page. Just stopped by to say good luck. Keep at it and you’ll do fine.

  4. […] Find Your Form: I spent years trying to write in a form that was not mine: realistic fiction. I thought that I was supposed to write in this form because all of academia encouraged me to do so. I had trouble starting to write for the longest time because of this–I had been convinced that children’s fantasy fiction was far too “below me.” But that was an idiotic idea put there by high-minded intellectual-types. Once I realized that the university was wrong about what constituted “valid” literature and once I realized how powerful and wonderful fantasy fiction could be, I began to write the novel I always wanted to write: a fantasy fiction story based on Mexican-American mythology. For details on how to discover your form, you should read: “Finding My Form.” […]

Comments are closed.