I do have something to say about writing. It struck me while posting a comment on another blog. It comes from my background with assistive technology for people with disabilities, where we learned that communication only takes three prerequisites:
1. Having something to say
2. Having someone to say it to
3. Having a way to say it
Where working with communication disorders is concerned, people with disabilities are people first, and therefore they have something to say. No intervention necessary. Having someone to say it to is usually a naturally occurring phenomenon, and, when it's not, it's easy enough to orchestrate. Which takes us to the third point: having a way to say it. Many people with disabilities need alternative or augmentative communication systems in order to express themselves to others. At this point in time, we have technologies that allow us to put an assistive technology solution in place for people with even the most severe disabilities as long as they have one voluntary movement. And we're close to commercially available systems wherein thought alone will control a computer, vocal output device, mobility system, and devices in the environment (lights, heat, doors, windows, drapes, appliances, etc.).
But what does that have to do with writing?
Well, my friend Keith called me yesterday all excited about a book idea he recently hit upon and he was picking my brain about the whole publishing thing. He was also seeking my general input about his idea, and I told him it seemed like he had passion for it, expertise (something to say), and an audience (someone to say it to - I can't get into that here for confidentiality reasons). And writing is his way to say it - he is a skilled writer. Self-publishing gives him the vehicle for reaching his audience, if he doesn't find a traditional publisher.
So here's the writing advice, in a nutshell:
1. Have something to say
What is it that you have to say that can only come from you? What do you know more about than anyone (in Jack's case, it was his own life and travels)? What are you passionate about? Are there new stories - real or fictionalized - that you are aching to tell? Do you have a unique spin on an existing topic that begs to be spun?
2. Have someone to say it to
Think about your audience (in Jack's case, it was a broad cross-section of people). Who will want to read what you write? What need will your writing fill? Information? Entertainment? Social connection? Change?
3. Have a way to say it
Obviously, writing is your way to say it (in Jack's case, it was often spontaneous prose). But what form will it take? How will you reach your audience? In a novel? Short story? Internet blog? Poetry chapbook? Nonfiction book? Magazine article?
There you have it. Writing advice. We all have something to say, there are plenty of people to say it to, and there are plenty of ways to say it.
One last piece of advice. Persistence. After love, it's the most powerful force there is. Day-by-day, the cumulative effect of persistence pays off. Hell, it carved the Grand Canyon. Writers write. That is what makes them writers. Not fame. Not fortune. Kerouac said the "greatest satisfaction in life is writing."
There's a story about a famous writer who was asked to speak to a group of aspiring writers. I cannot remember who it was or the exact quote, and Google failed me. The gist of it was that his whole speech consisted of asking the audience, "If you are all writers, why aren't you home writing?" Then he walked off stage.