In the new age of social media, we’re all writers, journalists, photographers and artists in a world that’s in constant motion.
We advertise, complain, spread ideas and showcase our daily lives through the words we pound on a keyboard. In one quick tap of a key, the world can experience who we are. Just like that. It’s pretty amazing if you think about it.
Virginia Woolf once observed that “every secret of a writer’s soul, every experience of his life, every quality of his mind, is written large in his works.”
Every word you now write is contributing to your body of work. Your inner soul, whether you realize it or not, is on display for everyone to see. To build a legacy and leave a mark, the quality of our content matters most. This is true even of a simple Facebook post or tweet.
The major problem in today’s “everybody is writer” age is that our writing is boring. Our sentences are long and bland. We say too much with little substance. We sugarcoat the truth. Nothing is happening. There’s no fire, no taste, just blah.
But if you want a little style in what you’re putting out, you have to perfect the sentence.
Writing is hard, man. Even the greats like Hemingway and Steinbeck struggled with it.
But if you can hone in on what you want to say, find the simplest words you can and arrange them in a sequence that sets fire to the page, you’ll propel your writing and platform.
It was Hemingway who once said: “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”
Bleed we must.
So how do we improve?
The best way to elevate our writing is by reading…preferably the greats.
This is where the late Bukowski comes in.
There hasn’t been a writer who packed a punch in a sentence quite like the great Charles Bukowski. He was a drunk, a poet, a novelist and a big-hearted maniac. Hailing from the underbelly of Los Angelos, he was, and still is, a counterculture icon who poetically bled words for the downtrodden, factory workers, drunks and prostitutes. He understood more than most about the complexities and monotony of everyday life.
Today, Bukowski’s words are some of the most quotable words on the planet. Whether it’s the fact that his words are being tattooed on beauty queens or shared through internet memes, the popularity of Bukowski is spreading. People are interested in Bukowski’s art more now than ever before.
I also realize that people who read Bukowski either fall in love or become sick to their stomachs. His writing isn’t for everyone. But one thing is undeniable–his sentences are like lightning. They’re short, simple and laced with greatness.
We all can learn from his style.
Bukowski was asked one time in an interview if he had ever read Malcolm Lowry’s famous novel, Under the Volcano.
This was his reply:
Yeah, I did and I yawned myself to shit…Why, because like any other writer there’s no paste, no quickness in his lines. There’s no life, there’s no sunlight.
When you write your words must go like this-
bam, bam, bam…bam, bam, bam… bam, bam, bam.
Each line must be full of a delicious little juice. Flavor. They must be full of power. And they must make you like to turn a page.
bam, bam, bam.
What these guys do, they say: “blah, blah blah, dah, dah…there was a porch chair, the flies were walking around.”
They say it too leisurely. They’re setting up the scene for the grand emotion, and when they get to the grand emotion there isn’t any. This is a different age, it’s the atomic age. Each line must have its own power, its own feeling, its own juice, its own flavor.
Writing must never be boring. It must not bore the reader. The writer. It must not bore anybody.
You have to have juice in each line, don’t you see…
Writers put me to sleep. They always did, they always will. Each line must be an entity of to itself but carry its own, like a voltage juice. You can’t say “Mrs. McGillacutty was sitting in a chair, it was 3:30pm on a southern morning in Georgia. Mr, McGillicutty was…”
It’s already dead, you see. You must say…the thing, the thing.
Bukowski ends the interview by scolding the interviewer for his endless questions while chugging a glass of wine.