I have been a bad writer. I have been a very bad writer. Not bad at writing, but bad at being a writer. Perhaps bad isn’t the right word, neglectful seems more appropriate. Neglectful of my blog, neglectful of my ideas, and neglectful of the very thing I set out to pursue.
When I started my journey of writing I had a clear cut goal; to create the fantasy novel I pictured so vividly in my head. I had a defined method on how to achieve that goal; go to university to do a creative writing degree, keep reading, and keep writing. I was sure that somewhere along the way I’d become kind of good.
So what happened? I got sidetracked along the way. On my journey toward that sunset horizon, that snow-capped pinnacle that is my ultimate goal, I stopped to look at the beautiful things around me and I liked what I saw. That doesn’t mean I stopped moving towards my goal, just that – for the moment – my progress has slowed considerably. But, try as I might, I can’t stop moving towards my goal. It forever looms over me like a considerably well-built and well-meaning auntie, nagging and prodding me forward.
So I decided to do a Master’s degree in Publishing because – for me – that is closer to my goal of being a writer. I’m halfway through the degree and I’m beginning to comprehend how publishers think, what I need to do to be successful in the competitive world of writing. That is good. But I stopped writing creatively, and that is bad. Instead, I’ve been caught up in copy-editing, learning how exactly the English language works, and writing a 3,500-word report on the strategic position of JCB (don’t ask).
Now I find myself back here, on this humble blog, trying to get back on the paved road that winds ineluctably on toward my goal. Along the way I’ve picked up some advice, from writers and from mistakes I’ve made, that I’d like to share with you.
– Keep reading, keep writing, and keep teaching yourself things. The broader your view on the world, the better you present yourself when writing about it. The more you read, the more you understand how to write. The more you write, the better you get at it.
– Keep focused on your goal. Do what you have to do, within reason, to get closer to it.
– Don’t neglect your ideas. I’m incredibly guilty when it comes to this. Too often I have had an idea and said ‘I’ll write that down later’, but the idea slips from my mind like tea bleeding through a cracked mug and is gone. A postponed idea is a wasted idea. Get up at night to write that idea you’ve dreamt up, grab a napkin at Nando’s and write it if you have an idea mid-meal, don’t neglect your ideas because they are the lifeblood of your writing.
– Share your work with people. Sometimes all you need is a fresh set of eyes.
– Edit, edit, edit. I can not stress this enough. I considered deleting most of the content on my blog before starting to write here again (I may delete it still), simply because I didn’t edit. Publishers often receive manuscripts for novels, essays, and non-fiction with terrible errors. For example, one Publisher received a manuscript from an academic for a history book where many of the dates were in the wrong century! Always check your work.
– Your writing can always get better. I’ve often looked at my ink ramblings and thought this is terrible. In fact, I don’t think any writer who cares about the craft has not – at some point – thought this. But your writing can, and will, get better with practice. My writing took a nice leap in the right direction when I began researching classical rhetoric, there are thousands of techniques out there to help sharpen up your writing. Actually, that gives me an idea. In the coming weeks, look out for a new series on writing techniques and classical rhetoric! Refuse to think of yourself as a bad writer. Instead, think of yourself as a student of writing. Even the greatest experts in a field have more to learn.
– Write to please you, stop pandering to markets. If you write to please markets/trends you won’t be writing at your best, and it won’t be truly what you want to write.
I’m looking forward to getting back to my writing, and I’m looking forward to being involved in this community of writers here on WordPress.
Thank you for reading, see you soon!