Monday, May 16, 2011

Writing Advice

When someone asks me what I do or where I work, I always hesitate to mention that I’m a writer. Not because I’m ashamed of it or think I’m not worthy to be called a writer, but because it often leads to some frustrating conversations. Let me see if any of you can relate to some of my experiences. 

  • “I’ve always wanted to be a writer. Can you help me?”
  • “I have a book I’ve written. Can you send it to a publisher for me?”
  • “I used to write in high school, maybe you could look at a few things and tell me what you think.”
  • “I’ve been through (you fill in the blank) and want to write a book about it. Can you tell me how to get it published?” 

Don’t get me wrong, there’ s nothing inherently wrong with these questions, the problem comes when I answer them. I’ve found that most people don’t really want to hear the truth – they want a shortcut to fame and fortune, not the truth. 

  • There’s no shortcut to becoming a professional writer. It takes time and commitment.
  • I don’t have an inside track into getting your book published.
  • If I take the time to look at your samples, I’ll tell you the truth and that may not be what you really want.
  • It’s hard to sell a memoir or personal experience story.  

There are no shortcuts to becoming a master at your craft and writing is no different. Even exceptional talent needs time and experience to hone it into brilliance. Occasionally I come across someone who’s willing to put in the time and really learn about the craft of writing. Those individuals are a joy and I love taking time to help them.

How do you answer those who want help on the path to writing? How do we tell the truth without killing the dream?

1 comment:

  1. I tell them the truth as gently as I can. Then when they don't believe me (they often don't), I back off. They will learn the hard way, by experience, as so many of us must. . .