Wednesday, November 6, 2013

How I Became A Real Writer

It didn't take a degree. Study is important and many of us like the structure and gold stars of school, but nothing beats doing. You don't need a classroom to learn grammar, style, or voice. Read a book, take a class or join a writing group. Degrees help focus but they can also herd too far. Bottom-line, it's the pursuit that matters.

It doesn't take a contract. I may be self-published but I still long for socal affirmation of a major publisher believing in me. When I began writing, finding an agent and publisher was the only way to realize my dream BUT IT'S SO SUBJECTIVE. That's what I love about self-publishing -- we remove the middleman who tells the public what topics are interesting. However, the achievement of a contract is a hard need to shake. I still labor over pitches and queries. 

It doesn't take selling your book(s) to strangers. Though I think this is near the top of actions that trick your brain into believing.

It takes effort. My effort won't look like your effort but there are key principles.

Never Give Up. Maybe it takes you a year to find your rhythm but that probably means your desire incubated then burst forth ready to succeed. Maybe it takes ten years of limping along. All effort leads
  • Your own voice
  • A body of work

Listen. Other writers will share the basics a million times before it penetrates the skulls of newbies. It boils down to a writer's willingness to learn:
  • The difference between stage direction and showing
  • Flow and tension versus forced narrative
Obervation. Notice how the authors you love write. Pause over a succulent sentence and discern how it functions. 
  • As a reader, ask yourself what is (or is not) flipping your skirt
  • No matter how painful, notice the common comments from editors, readers, other writers -- observing then fixing consistent criticism (too much exposition, using 'very' too much, etc) is a critical step.

Ultimately, there are only a handful of quality answers. The scary fact is, the tenants of writing are simple: write with a unique voice, sharing a story that moves. Understanding these concepts intimately is the journey.

A great journey never ends.