On Tuesday “Walter the Giant” came to Menlo to talk about his experiences as a storyteller and professional writer. Walter was a big fellow to say the least, 6’7″ or 6’8″, Walter was built like a mountain man. While he was physically imposing, his personality exuded friendliness and almost childlike silliness. Walter was a great public speaker and the crowd warmed to his gregariousness by the end of his speech.
Writer, storyteller and beloved librarian Walter “The Giant” Mayes
Not only were Walter the Giant’s stories amusing, but he offered many good writing tips:
1. Write every day
All the great writers find a way to devote an hour each day to their writing. That could be waking up at 5 in the morning to write, but constant writing will only make you better and it will help you find your voice.
2. Write for yourself
This piece of advice is hard for high schoolers to apply because it seems as if we only write for our teachers. We tailor our writing style and format to the whims of our teachers in the hopes of a better grade. Walter said that not letting the expectations of others impose on your writing will help your true voice to shine through.
Walter emphasized “finding your voice.” His voice was apparent because of his outgoing personality, but he admitted how hard it was for him to translate that voice onto paper.
3. Don’t let writing psych you out
Walter used a great example involving his nephew and “a skinny, awkward kid from Baltimore.” Walter’s nephew was swimming in the Olympic tryouts for the Sydney Olympics and saw a 15-year old Michael Phelps swim so well that he lost his edge.
There are many great writers out there, but don’t worry about writing as well as they do when you write.
Also, don’t let the loneliness and the weight of expectations prevent you from writing. Sitting down at a computer is intimidating, all you have is a blank screen telling you how your writing isn’t good enough.
4. Bring it all back when editing
Walter described the editing process as being incredibly demanding, time consuming and grueling. There basically is no writing, just rewriting.
It is important that when you are editing you think back on what you originally set out to do. It is easy to get caught up in something else, like in his case, the folklore and mythology of giants, but come back to what you are supposed to do and address the changes.
Walter kind of slammed the writing I do at the end of his speech. As a published author of multiple books, Walter expressed a natural disdain for writers who don’t edit their work. He talked constantly about how brutal the editing process was and doesn’t respect people who don’t edit their writing. Specifically, bloggers. He even referenced how his son reads sports websites/sports blogs and how Walter the Giant hates that sort of writing.
That kind of made me think a little bit. It definitely made me realize I need to focus more on editing because editing is so important to the writing process. But a part of me also says that writing a book and writing on a blog are two very different types of writing. Blogging shouldn’t be discriminated against just because it’s different. Sure, it’s easier, but that doesn’t make it bad.
But I still should be editing more. Another problem I have with this is the work it requires. I like writing in this blog, but I’m hesitant to increase my writing workload. I’m busy and lazy and don’t really want to pound away on 1 entry and put it through multiple drafts. By the time I finally got around to publishing the post, it would be way out of date.
Kind of an unresolved issue. Shit