Friday 5 June 2015

All you need to make you a Writer

So, you're a writer?

Ok, so you’re a writer, eh? I want you to write something, could be a scene or a description, your choice. I’ll wait, I’m not going anywhere.

Super, now read it. Done? Great, now I want you to delete it. Yes, delete it!

So, you don’t want to, eh? How about leaving it on your hard drive somewhere or send it to me. I’ll read it and delete it.

Now we’ve ascertained what you want. You want to write and you want people to read what you write and you want it to be more than just me.

For the next demonstration I’ll allow you to use your imagination, but it might be fun to do it for real. Again, I’ll wait. Go down to your local burger joint, stroll in and flip some burgers. Do it for as long as you enjoy it, then walk out. Alternatively, you can walk into and an accountant’s office, sit down and do some really tough sums. Now ask the owners of the accountants office or burger joint for some pay. What did they say? How rude! Ok, now do that from time to time, a couple of times a week, even a little more. Now ask for some wages. Maybe a little less rude but still no money, eh?

So, you write but you are no more a writer than a burger flipper or an accountant until you employ a work ethic. There will be no paydays until you start clocking on and becoming productive. Your writing is a hobby and that’s great but we already decided that you want to be read and by more than just me. That’s only going to happen if you get readers and that takes work.

Turn off the TV and social networks. Do accountants and burger-flippers have them as part of their day? Nor should you.

Set goals, keep to them. 1000 words a day is a good start, not as easy as it sounds but you will be able to fit it in with your day job.

With that goal you will be able to finish your first draught in less than six months.

Learn proper use of grammar. This is the tool of your trade. Read Strunk and White’s Elements of style, it’s a great first step to improving you’re(sic) use of punctuation and much more. Then go back and edit your work.

Read. Read fiction of varied genres but do not ignore the craft of journalists. A good article will drive you to the end and that is what you want your story to do. Some of the best authors were once journalists, George Orwell, Martin Amis and Graham Greene to name a few.

If you really want to be a professional writer, you need to adopt a professional approach. Being a professional means learning your job, learning the business, putting in the hours and producing the goods. It is (almost) that simple.

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“In a hyper-real postmodern world, fact and fiction have become confusingly indistinguishable” Hunter S. Thompson

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