Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Beginning Writer

I just read an article by a writer I normally appreciate and agree with on many levels.  This time, I didn't.


The person in question was giving tips on how to get started in a writing career and how in order to begin the writer must not begin by writing books, but rather find other venues to begin with and to launch yourself.  Things like writing for magazines, swimming through the frustration, moving forward, dealing with rejection, and more.  Oh, and don't forget newspapers, she mentioned beginning writers write for newspapers.

Okay, now I'm not belittling her viewpoint as it is her own, but I don't happen to share it. 

By now you all know I'm a writer of books - books, and well, more recently screenplays.  And here's the thing.  I went totally against her rule.  I began writing by writing books. I didn't want to write anything shorter or to begin by writing articles or short stories for magazine.  That wasn't me. 

I took English courses in school, aimed at improving my writing. In high school and college I took English courses.  And I did a lot of self teaching. I dug into things, found help where I needed it.  Found ways to talk to other writers and I wrote.

I wrote a lot.

I wrote books. Novels. Fiction.

It seems a bit off the wall to me to take the position that a writer hasn't become a writer yet so therefore should begin writing with things that are not your forte or that bore you to tears. 

Do you need to develop your writer's voice?  Yes. 

Do you need to have the tools to put forth your ideas in clear and proper language?  Yes.

Magazines are fine IF you want to write for magazines.  And, yes, it might help you to earn some bucks if you can write for magazines, or newspapers, or other venues to help boost your writing abilities. 

BUT, that doesn't mean you should put your first writing love aside UNTIL you master the others.  If books; writing fiction is your first love, then write.

After you've written, proof it, edit it and pass it to others to get input.  That input may not always be good, but that is for you to decide.  Should you get professional editing? Probably. 

Here's the thing, from my personal experience, and I've published 15 books and optioned several screen plays, you must follow your joy. I've been side-tracked a number of times and have always regretted it.

One thing I have done though, is write for different genres, different venues such as articles, biography, even short stories, but most of that I did AFTER I'd had my book(s) published.

So here it is in a capsule.  

You need to learn to write tight (screenwriting can really teach you that) and your own ability to cut, cut, cut.

Learn to write fast.  This is one that really works for me.  Might not for you so much.  But the faster I write, the better.  Editing comes later.

Learn to research well. Doesn't matter what you write, you're going to have to research sooner or later, most likely sooner. So realize you have to research and learn to do it well.

Learn to listen to an editor.  Whether a pro you hire to edit and review your book or the one at the publishing house where you just sold your book. No, they're not out to get you or to make your life miserable. Generally they want to help you put out the best book you can. They're not always right, but they are always worth listening to. You can talk to them about your writing, really.

So, while having credits to show an editor is always good, it's doubtful a science fiction editor is going to do much more than glance in passing at your magazine article credits on gardening or cooking. Granted, those show you can write and meet a deadline, but they don't showcase your fiction writing abilities.

So, moral of this tale? For me it always has been and always will be, write what you love.  Follow your joy.  Oh, and if writing doesn't bring you the joy you thought it might when you started out, find something else you love. Writing should not be torture. Forgive yourself if you took a wrong turn. But if you love writing, then write what you love.

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