Sunday, 10 January 2010
What Makes A Good Article Writer?
I was thinking about this the other evening. What is the difference between a good published article writer and a non-published article writer? And no it's not the start of a joke - well if it is, I don't know the punchline! I know when I first started out in the crazy world of writing I had no idea what I was doing. I initially wrote reader's letters to local and then national magazines and newspapers and then to The Link (NAWG) where I progressed to blogging and I was encouraged to adapt some of my blog posts to articles and submit them, which I did. I also sent articles to free local magazines and the local daily paper, as my confidence and daring grew. Being brave and having the courage to sit down and write and eventually send your work off is important for all writers, whatever they write. It isn't easy and all writers start from the same place - a pen and notebook or computer. The first step in the writing process is recognising that you want to write, then you discover what you want to write. Your own internal deliberations about whether you actually can or can't write shouldn't come into it. But it does and one of your first jobs as a writer, one of the skills that will do excellent service to your writing if you can acquire it, is to be able to shut off your inner critic, that voice that tells you what you are writing is rubbish and that you will never make it as a writer. If you can shut that off you're on to a winner. If you can't shut it off then the next best thing you can do is learn to live with it, as I have to do, and develop a resistance to it. Let it have its say, listen to it graciously, then take what it says with a pinch of salt (if you can find any at this time of the year when most of it's on the roads). It's imperrative that you don't ignore it as that will infuriate it and it will up its attempts to sabbotage your work. You need to have a positive mental attitude to your writing - not view it through rose tinted spectacles, but neither let the negativity about the flaws you perceive to be in your work render you incapable of writing. We've all been there and it's not a nice place to be. There are enough editors and would be writers out there who are too afraid to write themselves so will take their frustrations out on you and bombard you with negativity without you doing it to yourself too. Build yourself an imaginary but strong shell and let the external criticism bounce off you like a rubber ball. lots of people make New Year resolutions to start writing or improve their writing: this is the year they are going to finish writing that novel, or send those short stories out. But I wonder how many of them will still be writing come March/April time. That's one of the differences between writers who are published and those who are not. The majority of published writers have done their homework; they've studied the market; they've learned how to write in a style editors want; they've pushed themselves and worked hard. Most importantly they perservered:they didn't let their inner critic stop them from writing; they didn't fall down at the first rejection - or the second, or the third or the thirtieth - they carried on, all the time learning and adapting their writing style - and that's they key. If you are new to writing - don't think it is going to be easy, as in the majority of cases it isn't. It's hard and scary and takes a long time - there aren't many 'overnight successes'. But being a published writer isn't impossible. It can and has been done by people just like you and me. So what kind of writer are you going to be? The one who travels through life dragging his burning desire to write behind him because he gave a few half hearted attempts to get published but failed and so just gave up? Or are you going to be the kind of writer who learns to roll with the punches and carries on writing, getting it out into the world. I know which one I am and the one I know you can be. So come on, pens out, notebooks open, computer ready - where is your writing journey going to take you today? Julie xx