…Or how I am getting back in to the swing of things with my writing and other things.
Writing, for me, is like someone trying to break into acting. It’s tough, competitive, and when you finally make it, you can add a title to your name. The most important thing about being an aspiring author is to never lose your passion for writing and not to let setbacks derail you or dent your passion.
It’s easy to be discouraged in a field where you are against a lot of well-known names, but keeping perspective and your eyes on the prize is the most important thing, at least to me. So, what nuggets of wisdom do I, a mere writer and aspiring author, have to impart upon you, the reader?
Don’t compare yourself to others
Critics spend enough time comparing one author to another. You don’t need to add to the dialogue. Realistically, we’re artists, work smiths if you will. We start out in school learning syntax, grammar, sentence diagramming, spelling and many more tools in order to take what is in our minds and give it justice on paper. Our job is not to paint the picture with oils, pencils, or watercolor. Our job is to tell a tale that paints a picture in the mind of the person that has honored us by purchasing our book.
We don’t simply wake up one day and become the likes of Tolstoy, King, or Copperfield. Our words need to be nurtured. If it wasn’t for that fact that my notebooks have either succumbed to mold and mildew or were stolen, I would have something to compare where I am now to where I once started.
You are your own worst critic. Yes, that is cliche, but it is true. So, to help keep you on track, keep your previous works and compare them to your writing in the present. You can even go back and make notations in your previous work at to how you improved upon your craft.
This will help you keep yourself grounded and remind you where you started. We all need reminders to keep us humble.
Write what you know.
I have gotten into a lot of arguments about this one. So, I will start with what I DON’T mean when I say this:
- Fantasy/horror writing
- Obviously, both genres stem from the imagination. So, one cannot possibly know facts about something that is fantasy.
- You create your own world when you write in these genres. So, it stands to reason that you know about that which you are writing.
- Murder/Mystery/Police Procedure
- These are things that can be researched and thus will lead to the author being knowledgeable in the subject.
So, what do I mean?
If you are an only child, you cannot possibly know the dynamic between siblings and thus cannot write them in a manner that will be convincing. Can you ask a friend that has siblings what it’s like? Sure, you can do that. You can even ask them to read over any passages you have written to see if they need to be re-written. Don’t be surprised if they do. That has happened to me.
Mental illnesses are another that you need to tread wisely upon and understand before putting pen to paper or fingers to keyboard. Studying about them is one thing, but asking people who suffer from mental conditions is what can truly give you an understanding of what how the illness affects the person and how they wish the illness should be put into print.
LGBT issues can be learned, but unless you talk to people in that community about their experiences and how they wish to be truly portrayed, you will fall into the trap of writing an LGBT character with their orientation as their character trait.
Find a Support Group
Find other people that are writers and help one another out. Yes, ultimately you are competing for sales against them, but aiding your fellow word smith goes a long way. Besides, the person who will purchase your book may, or may not, purchase your colleague’s book as well.
Help one another brainstorm, edit, and get out of tough spots. A fresh set of eyes on that writing project can find a way out of a possible corner into which you may have written yourself.
Celebrate in your and your fellow writer’s accomplishments. Also, don’t forget to be there for them if they are having a rough time of it.
Find your own way
Though it is true that styles of writing can’t truly be stolen, find your own way of weaving a tale will set you apart from others in your genre. I can’t tell you how to do this. All I can say is that if you see your style starting to blossom, let it. Don’t stifle it. Let your style flourish and grow.
Until next time,
Anissa “Maddy” Walker