Learning to write is like breaking free of addiction.

ImageI am a writer because I love to hear my own voice Not literally hear my voice, but the voices in my head that shout about these people and places and what they do and…Oh, never mind. Forget I mentioned voices in my head. Ok, there are a few, but they don’t ever tell me to do evil things.

Lesson 2 – Take a class, take two.

I know; I know. You’re thinking writing is a solitary pursuit. I’m not a joiner; I’m a loner. Class – OMG it’s such a commitment. What if they want me to write things I don’t want to write or that I’m not good at writing? What if I don’t learn anything? What if, what if, what if.

Learning to write is like breaking free of addiction. The first thing I had to do was admit I had a problem. A bad review I got from a writer’s conference hit the nail on the head. My problem – I thought I could be a writer without learning how. Taking a class proved to me I was no writer. Though I had the knowledge down pat; story arch, characterization, plot, style, dialogue, I hadn’t put in the work. Like any craft writing takes practice and classes give you plenty.

Classes also freed me from the fantasy of the solitary life. While writing itself may be a job for one, I needed editing, coaching, critique and (dare I admit this) a support group. If writing is so solitary why are there so many classes, conferences, professional organizations and conventions? Who knew?

And speaking of critique, it was in classes I learned to take criticism. Take what they offer; use what you can; ignore the rest. Sit still, listen, don’t argue or correct. If the work doesn’t speak for you, it’s not working. You can’t go home with everyone who buys a copy of your book and explain it, correct the misconceptions they have about allegory or metaphor. This writing business takes practice and classes are a great place to do the exercise required.

I think I have the formula; a thousand words of junk will glean a hundred words that are keepers. Guess I better get a few more pages in.

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One thought on “Learning to write is like breaking free of addiction.

  1. Eventually I met this sub-editor at a publication I worked for. She was a dragon, or so I thought.. and all the other journos seemed to be terrified of her. Here’s the thing: she made my work shine. She’d ask me questions I hadn’t even thought to answer in my stories; guided me to find my voice, and raked me over the coals if I was lazy. The pieces I worked on with her read much better, garnered more positive responses. I left that place knowing that what I do is just the beginning. I’ll always need someone like her to tear my piece apart to look for all the holes I didn’t realise I left in my yarn. Hurts. Badly. But it’s so worth it.
    Damaria at http://foodgardeningsa.blogspot.com

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