Writing talent isn't something you're born with. You might
like it more than the person next to you, but you weren't
birthed ready to pen a bestselling tome. Writing is work.
There's nothing accidental about it, and the sooner you
understand that, the sooner you'll tackle a realistic
writing venture - with less disappointment.
I've counseled people who've decided to do an about-face
and write. They've decided to do what they love for a
change. My concern is, have they been writing all along and
just now took it serious? Or have they decided they like
the idea of writing and want to take up the craft?
Either is admirable. However, writing becomes worthy,
improves, and grows only with use, critique and study. It
doesn't just happen. A writer isn't an actress discovered
beside a dime store soda fountain by a Hollywood director.
A writer earns his way, starting at the bottom and working
up. These days many decide that when they are going to
write, that means publish. Who wants to write and not
publish? However, writing isn't synonymous with publishing.
Publishing is what you do once you've learned how to write.
With practice, study, review and repetition, a voice takes
root. You aren't born with voice. It evolves with each
word you pen. You don't look for it. You don't develop
a plan and create it. It comes with the confidence of telling
a story, after many attempts and a lot of backing up and
I'm often asked in conferences or online chats, "If you
could give one piece of advice to writers, what would
it be?" Without a doubt, it would be to write more
and publish slowly. I've seen too many people hurt by
doing the opposite.
When someone asks for a consult with me, I always ask
for their educational, publishing and writing background.
Some have never published, yet are writing a book they
think is the next King, Rowling, Clancy or Patterson.
I admire their determination. But then I wonder how
many realize that they are talking about a multi-year
venture? Most don't. I can usually tell which ones are
deceiving themselves. I always pray I'm wrong.
I want you to succeed. I want to see your name on the
top 100 lists, the top 10 lists, the bestseller lists.
Who doesn't love seeing people they know rise to the
top? But it pains me to see people sabotage their
writing future by writing one piece then decide it
can be published without an editor, without rewrites,
Coca Cola and Kentucky Fried Chicken didn't become
household names using the first formulas they tried.
It wasn't until after following countless tests that they
found a flavor the public loved. Cologne, clothes,
cars, recipes and architecture are all the same. The
first, second, or even third drafts are just steps in
a journey. That way the end result is more predictable,
more likely to win consumer approval.
Practice makes perfect.
With an aim to improving my writing, I've been running an experiment: I have sent the same short story to two different editors that I know and trust. One is in her senior years and the other is young. I expect to see a difference in style because of their ages as language changes. The senior editor has returned the story and I discovered a difference in the way she paces. By using commas instead of periods in a sequence of thoughts, I thnk she loses the pacing and drags the paragraph down. But that's just me. I can't wait to see the next one!
Arnaldo, I agree about the editing, but it is very expensive. My little "experiment" alone will cost me $80.00 for the two. Editing my books costs me hundreds of dollars. Most young writers can't afford that. For myself, I think of it as an educational expense. It's easier to swallow that way...