On writing simply

Not an avid reader of Haruki Murakami.


He made some interesting points in his recent article in the Guardian.

Maybe it had been a mistake to try to write something “novelistic” in the first place. “Give up trying to create something sophisticated,” I told myself. “Why not forget all those prescriptive ideas about ‘the novel’ and ‘literature’ and set down your feelings and thoughts as they come to you, freely, in a way that you like?”

This resonates with me at different levels.

First, I don't know which genre my writing belongs. I don't even consider myself a writer; just someone who writes, often. I assume all the writers write often, but not everyone who writes often is a writer. Or so I think.

Second, once freed from the burden of being something and writing within the canonical taxonomies, this is about setting down your feelings and thoughts. And do it playfully.

Even the requisite of “doing it playfully” shall not be taken so seriously. There is no recipe to be “playful”, if you follow a particular recipe you're not being playful any more.

Needless to say, my ability in English composition didn’t amount to much. My vocabulary was severely limited, as was my command of English syntax. I could only write in short, simple sentences. Which meant that, however complex and numerous the thoughts running around in my head, I couldn’t even attempt to set them down as they came to me. The language had to be simple, my ideas expressed in an easy-to-understand way, the descriptions stripped of all extraneous fat, the form made compact, and everything arranged to fit a container of limited size. The result was a rough, uncultivated kind of prose. As I struggled to express myself in that fashion, however, a distinctive rhythm began to take shape.

This, too.

I started enjoying writing more when I stopped worrying about my shitty English.

I know (you know, everybody knows) English is my second language. Why pretending something else? That does not mean I can't improve, but do not expect perfection for me. Never. Ever.

At this point, I think my writing in Spanish is getting rusty, it is maybe worse than in English.

(Should I start writing in Spanish? ⚆ _ ⚆)

This also links to the idea of playfulness (which comes up, again, and, again, and again, in my writing). When you have constraints (as I do in English), you shall keep things simple. To make something simple, interesting, you have to play with it. And you can play with, basically, everything; even with your own language limitations.

For the improvement part, you can borrow style elements from the people you read (and I am assuming you read people because you like their writing. So, you will be happy if your writing looks, to some extent, like theirs .... rrrrrrrrriiiiight? Do you see a flaw in my logic?).

Do it unapologetically.

Combine their style in your unique way until it is hard, almost impossible, to recognize what comes from where.

(Unless you read smart writers and those writers read you, then, you will be caught. Be prepared.)

Simple leads to playfulness. Playfulness require smartness. Smart is sexy (unless you feel particularly attracted to stupidity). People like sex, but, even more, they like sexy things.

In conclusion,

  1. Keep it simple.
  2. Be playful (whatever that means to you).
  3. Use your shortcomings to keep things simple, be playful and improve.
  4. Sexy is good.

The End.