Tuesday, September 9, 2014
Writers And The Learning Curve
Writers; we’re by necessity much more than that these days. The world of writing and everything associated with it has changed amazingly in the past few years and continues to change every day. Think about it. The internet with it’s amazing resources for writers; research at our fingertips, social media to get out there and meet our readers and promote, videos and so much more.
It’s all a bit of a whirlwind, but if you’re a writer you’re already all too aware that what it means to be a writer is changing on a daily basis. How we can be successful at it is changing even faster. You have to grab the brass ring of what our culture is throwing at us, move forward rapidly, build new skills with alacrity and stay on top of stuff you previously didn’t even know existed (well, actually you didn’t know it existed because a short time ago it didn’t!).
So here are three of those skills I mentioned above to consider:
1. Network with other writers. Seriously. We used to believe writers were lone wolves, working in a quiet little room of his or her own. It wasn’t altogether true then, just partially. Yes, a certain amount of isolation and quiet is needed to do the work of writing. That’s just the way it is. Writers need peace. But, on the other hand when you read about historic writers frequently you read about them hanging out in cafes with other writers and artists. They created communities for themselves and that community creation in our times still extends to hanging out with other like-minded writers. However it has expanded to include the social network online. You know, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and the like. Reach out to other writers and editors. If you spread the word about their work they’ll spread the word about yours. Nurture friendships that can grow and spread over years.
2. Now’s the time you have to learn to be an editor in addition to a writer. You must edit your own work. Nobody is going to accept sloppily written work. Not publishers or editors, magazines or book publishers or script readers or agents. And, not readers if you self- publish and get your work out there on your own. Gone are the days of dumping a box of pages on an editor’s desk and being met with a smile. Competition is much fiercer these days than twenty or even ten years ago. Don’t give any reader the opportunity to toss your work aside because it’s just too messed up to read. You can hire an editor, there are lots of them out there, if you need to. But polish! Learn little tips for editing such as changing the font temporarily to give yourself a new angle. Let your work sit a few days or a week or whatever you need before you re-read and polish. Ask a friend for a quick read-through. Whatever it takes. Make your work worth reading. And if you’re self-publishing learn to format to Amazon or whatever venue you’re publishing to.
3. Create your persona and presence online. Start a YouTube channel if you want to put videos out there to promote your work. Create fab pins to pin on your Pinterest boards. Post on twitter and Facebook. Add photos of book covers and yourself. Maybe create a blog or your own webpage. Gain followers who want to share your work. Do it by creating relationships between yourself and your readers. Tell them about your process, why you write, what’s the next big thing you’re working on, anything that will get and hold their attention. Tell them your thoughts on what you might be writing next and ask their opinions. Engage.
What new skills beyond these have you already cultivated and absorbed? Toss them into the comment box and let others know what’s moving your career forward.