My writing process is very simple. I tend to vomit out my first draft; cringe at the mess, then start to fix it through the editing process.
I am a panster writer which makes things a little interesting in that my characters tend to write the story for me. I’ve recently finished the first draft of my third story in the Masked series. The final couple of chapters did not turn out they way I had planned. The main reason for this was when I put pen to paper (I hand write my chapters on the ferry on my way into work then type them up in the weekend) if I stayed true to my characters traits, I couldn’t end the story the way I’d originally envisaged.
I chose to stay true to the characters and they told the ending, not me.
In the real world I am an IT Business Analyst/Consultant. Most of my work is centered around software delivery projects, which can be stressful due to technical, time-frame, people and political challenges. I spend a lot of my time writing technical documentation.
While I enjoy what I do, it is a very structured and clinical way to write. Creative writing provides me with an outlet to be just that-creative.
For me, creative writing is stress relief. I get to let these little worlds in my head come to life. Sometimes it works, and other times it was probably better off trapped in my head. 😉
Strangely enough, it would be to be able to earn a living from writing. It would give me the opportunity to work from home and spend more time with my sons.
That being said, even though what I do has it’s bad days, it is a career I enjoy. It has given me the opportunity to see a lot of the world and is in a constant state of flux, which means I am always learning new things.
I was at a romance writers conference last year and met some wonderful women from all walks of life from across the country. As you do when you are getting to know a group of people, you ask the usual questions such as ‘so what do you do when you are not working on your hobby?’
The funny thing was… while we were all over the map with regards to what we did to earn a living, many of us had careers that required some level of formal writing: Editor, Technical Writer for Legislation, Executive Assistants, Company Director, Media Relations etc…
The reality is that very few of us will be able to pay the bills by being a novelist. However, we can choose a career path that includes a little of what we love.
When you look at the jobs out there that include writing skills we are spoilt for choice: Blogger, Journalist, Columnist, Speechwriter, Scriptwriter, Video Game Writer, Lyricist, Greeting Card Writer, Technical Writer, Copywriter, Translator, Grant Writer, Business Plan Writer, Teaching English, Journalism, communications & creative writing, Writing Coach… the list goes on.
If you love writing, you don’t need to give it up just because you are told you need to get a ‘real job’. There are many careers out there that will compliment our skills while we continue to perfect that story we are sure will be the next Booker or Pulitzer prize winner.
Never forget that we write because it’s ingrained within us. We have a story to tell and come hell or high water we are going to tell it.
For those of you who are at the beginning of your writing journey, I am going to leave you with three bits of advice:
1. READ, READ, THEN READ SOME MORE. Stephen King said, “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have time to write.”
The one thing that everyone agrees with is that writers should read. We read to learn the rules, better understand the language and gauge the tropes and different writing styles within the genres. We will often find that by reading more we are more inspired to write.
Consider it stalking the competition. Read things out of your comfort zone. Those will be the stories that will surprise you.
Find those books that give you a book hangover.. you know the ones.. where you can’t start a new one because you’re still living in the last book’s world. What was it about those stories that left you trapped within them? What did the writer do differently? Study those books, because that’s exactly what you need to try an emulate.
2. LEARN THE CRAFT
Question: Why should you never date and apostrophe?
Answer: They’re too possessive.
Writing is an art-form, and unless you are Dan Brown, Stephen King or Clive Cussler you have to conform to the rules of writing.
It often irks a lot of newby writers that published A-list authors get away with all sorts of writing sins. However, they have earnt this. At one point, they were all where we are now – at the begging of our writing journey. They paid their dues and conformed to the rules.
If you want to treat your writing as a hobby and don’t want to take it any further, you can break as many rules as you want. However, if you wish to take it further, you must not only learn the rules, but conform to them.
3. DEVELOP A THICK SKIN AND DON’T BE AFRAID TO MAKE MISTAKES
Research and writing are lonely occupations. It is easy to become discouraged in solitary confinement – Oliver Wendell Homes.
As writers we tend to overthink things too much. We get forty to fifty thousand words into a manuscript and then start second guessing ourselves, convinced that no one with like the story.
My advice is to put yourself out there. Find a critique partner; post your story online; find beta readers.
There are so many online writing groups to help you find your way, its no longer the solitary occupation it once was. However, this comes with it’s own set of challenges… hence needing to develop a thick skin. Like anything with social media, DO NOT FEED THE TROLLS.
As teenagers you are at the beginning of an exciting journey, one that, like a roller-coaster will take you through ups as well as downs. We live in such turbulent times it is difficult to know what the future holds.
I urge you to use your voices through writing to change the world. Make your mark and leave behind a legacy that you can be proud of. No matter what you are told, each one of you has the ability to be the next Jane Austin, Beatrix Potter, Charles Dickens or JK Rowling.
You just need to do one thing.. and that is believe in yourself.
Pride & Prejudice, The Da Vinci Code, Harry Potter Series & To Kill a Mockingbird
Currently working on editing Buried, the second story in the Masked series to get it ready for publishing.