There’s this thing called the X-Factor. It’s what makes your writing sing.
This is the fifth in a five part series on writing.
The X Factor is this is the unteachable element.
If something’s unteachable, you have to tack. Tacking is a technique sailors use when they want to take a sailboat directly into the wind. Well, you can’t do it. So you go at a 45 degree angle, sideways. Then, to stay on course, you go into the wind sideways the other direction for a while.
How do you tack when it comes to growing in the X-factor?
Tack left: engage the arts. Read. Read challenging things. Read the great Russian writers. See good art at museums or fine art galleries. Watch interesting films with plots. I prefer foreign films, they’re less predictable. Listen to music you don’t normally gravitate to.
Tack right: work on the basics again. Do the four exercises from the previous four weeks. Grow in all four of the other areas, tack towards the muse, and you’ll grow in this area too. You’ll learn to recognize it, for one thing, when it happens to you.
The last thing you have to do is keep consulting the compass as a good sailor would to make sure you’re still headed where you want to go. This means getting feedback from writers you respect, and taking them seriously.
I’m still tacking a lot. My two books are The Art of Motivational Listening (2015) and White Buffalo Gold (2012). See the bookstore for how to order.