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I WANT TO BE A WRITER! BUT HOW?


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As a book editor, I see manuscripts on a continuum from near perfect (rare) to “needs work” to “needs a heck of a lot of work.” In this latter category, many would-be authors have not equipped themselves with the basic skills and techniques of writing. They believed their desire to be a writer would be enough for them to produce the work.


But “I want to be a writer’ is not enough.


There is a practical craft component to write at a competent level, let alone at an accomplished level. The latter is what we aim to achieve but, like all the creative arts, the work must be done. For the aspiring musician, the scales must be practised, for the ballet dancer, there are the daily arduous stretches and movements, and for the writer, the loops of drafting, editing, and revising.

 

While the following three strategies are for writers at early stages of their careers, all writers will benefit from using them.


(1) THE READ STRATEGY

When published authors are asked what is required for success, their most common response is you need to read.  Read every day. Read lots. Read the kinds of books and articles you would like to write. Read newspapers. Read outside your own genre.

If you hope to be an admired author, start and continue your own reading practice.


Read off a screen as much as possible. Recent research demonstrates our brains are far better at retaining information from paper books and other off-screen sources. On screen, our brains send a lot of the data out the back door, hence of the data that goes in, less is retained and less is retrievable. Research link. 


But why is reading such a valuable resource for a writer? Think of your brain as a sea sponge. Flowing through it every day are the essential nutrients extracted from the sea of experience and life. Some of these nutrients are captured and retained in the sponge which keeps it alive, healthy and growing. From our reading, we are absorbing the nutrients of vocabulary, phrases, expressions, sentence constructions, dialogue, grammar, and so on.


Not least of course, writers are absorbing others’ experiences through reading. For example, to write crime fiction we don’t need to have been a police officer or a criminal. To write a political thriller, we don’t need to have been in politics or a bureaucrat or lobbyist. We do need to feed our imagination through reading about these different professions and milieu.

 

(2) THE LEARN STRATEGY

Like the old saying goes, writing is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration. Learning the craft of writing is how we translate our desire to write into the practical techniques and skills of writing. To progress from an enthusiastic amateur, we need to be a little humble and learn the craft. Like the great artists, we must learn how to carve our characters, how to paint our word pictures, and how to render our stories.

How?

In the 21st century, we are spoiled for choice:


  • Books

  • Blogs

  • Podcasts

  • Courses and workshops (online and offline)

  • Writers’ conferences

  • Writers groups (in person)

  • Writing retreats

  • Websites (one of the absolute best ones is K.M. Wieland’s Helping Writers Become Authors)


Choose a mix of learning approaches that suit your budget and time constraints. Consider your preferred ways of learning. Don’t try to do too much at the same time. Choose a couple of learning resources at any one time. As much as possible, go for the in-person learning experiences which will tap into the next strategy, to congregate.


(3) THE CONGREGATE STRATEGY

To reach your writing goals, expect to have up times and down times. Throughout it all, you need to have support and encouragement from fellow writers. Even the happy introverts among us need other people. We learn from each other, motivate each other, and celebrate each other’s small and big wins.


Search for and find your own writing cheer squad. Again, online is OK but in person is best. If you live on the Gold Coast and surrounding areas, come along and check out our The Writers’ Circle group. We’re small, friendly, and informal and meet on the third Wednesday of the month at Southport Library.



If only the desire and passion to become a writer was enough to make it happen. The reality is writers must cultivate a strong self-belief , a dash of humility, and a preparedness to read, learn and congregate.


I hope this article has given you relevant information and food for thought on this issue. As ever, your feedback and comments are very welcome.

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If you would like some help with your writing or publishing options, I look forward to hearing from you.  


Doing the write thing (and lovin' it!)

Lynne


Lynette Lloyd Moss

Editor and Publisher

LLOYD MOSS publishing

0421 998749

lynnejlloyd@outlook.com

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