Writing Tip of the Day:
Reading, even reading hundreds of books, doesn’t make you a writer any more than watching every Bruce Lee movie ever made makes you a martial artist.
I have the amazing benefit, currently, of working at a job where I can listen to books and audio books and I’ve been spending a ton of time studying the craft of writing. The more I learn, the more I realize just how much there is to know about this amazing field.
For whatever reason, though they would not expect it of really any other art form, people think they should be able to just sit down and write a short story or novel because they’ve read a lot and can write a sentence and paragraph.
They would never expect to be able to play a masterful symphony after just listening to music. There may be the crazy rare prodigy that can do it, but for the other 99.99999 percent that means there’s a lot to learn.
And that means just what it means in another other advanced and difficult profession. It means a lot of study, a lot of practice and a lot of hard work just to be able to really be able to become adept enough to do a good solid job on average work.
Note not best selling block buster lottery winning money work. Average work. To do more takes time, practice, skill, a dash of talent and a lot of hard work and experience.
And sometimes luck.
But even if you have done everything you can to master all the skills of writing, I am learning, that is not enough. There is a whole other factor and skill set that matters, and it’s not one that seems to often go hand in hand with the things that cause people to want to be authors.
Social Skills, work ethic, networking, self promotion, salesmanship, marketing and most of all manners seem to also be necessary to get your foot in the door. A good book, from what i’m hearing and seeing from top authors, isn’t good enough. For those starting off, the agents and editors are taking a chance not just on the book but on the author, and since the competition is fierce, it doesn’t hurt to know people and have them like you.
Self Publishing may seem like a way to avoid all that, but it’s actually far worse. You have to be able to fully market yourself directly to the readers, then. You have to be an editor, not just the writer. You have to be even more of a salesman. And you need to learn all the skills of e-publishing. You also need to hire or learn all the skills necessary to get a great title and cover and cover art and back of the book blurb and . . . and . . . and . . .
I’m a gamer, and I have been all my life, so hopefully you will forgive me a D&D reference. It works for video gamers, too. Or even adventures on books and movies. They start out able to do some pretty amazing things, or become able to after a training montage. In Dungeons and Dragons even a first level fighter is skilled in using plate mail and a huge variety of weapons and shields and can hold their own against some pretty impressive enemies. Goblins, orcs, even skeletons and things.
But writers don’t start out at first level. They start out at 0th level. For gaming it may be an obscure, optional rule that dates my age, but for writing it communicates best. There are things you need to know, a lot of basic foundational skills that are the writers equivalent of knowing how to use short swords and leather armor and bows and such with basic adeptness and skill. And then you practice, practice, practice. For a more mystical version, this is the level at which you learn cantrips. Making a splash of acid or a minor illusion might not be as powerful or flashy as a fireball but it’s a heck of a lot more than posers who refuse to practice and work hard and realize that writing is both an art and a craft will ever be able to manage.
That intensive study and practice is how you earn the ding of first level where the real hard work begins.
Of course that doesn’t even fully address the issue. Not only are a huge number of people not willing to master the skills and do the hard work it takes to make themselves professional writers, but they expect to not only make a book but to make a book that sells millions of copies and is made into a major Hollywood movie and makes them rich and famous.
What I am saying, in summary, is that if what you are looking for is a career in writing, rather than a daydream, you need to buckle down and confront doing the work.
The good news is that, due to the power of the internet, some really great, generous authors, there has never been an easier time to get good educational materials and sound mentor-ship than now.
Writing Tip of the Day: