42,282 words! 2,229 words written. Saturday is TWOsday!
Let’s get to the sausage making, my lovelies.
Writing Advice: Becoming a “Good” Writer
Becoming an author for the money is like becoming a stand-up comedian for the dignity. Writers are viewed lower than assistant grips in the Hollywood nesting tree, in which the higher-up birds poop on the next branch down. Why? Everyone thinks they can become a writer.
And anyone can become a writer. Unlike most other art forms, no real up-front financial investment is required. Painters have to buy paints. Sculptors have buy clay or marble. Musicians have to buy instruments. But give any bozo a blank sheet of typing paper and an orange crayon and suddenly they’re the head writer for “Two and a Half Men.”
Wow. What a crappy show that was.
I digress. Often.
Anyone can become a writer, but not everyone can become a good writer. What’s the difference? It’s certainly not in the money. Some profoundly terrible writers have written best-sellers. Some great writers languished with hardly any sales at all.
But that doesn’t really matter. If you want to make money, don’t write novels. Write advertising.1 Don’t chase cash. Chase quality.
The Stephanie Meyers and E.L. James-es of the writing world are few and far between, mostly because Satan only has a limited amount of time for the publishing world. The music industry is a far better investment of his time. Almost all writers have to build an audience, and they do so by creating quality art. Often.
The question on whether or not you are a good writer is if your writing makes an impact on you. Did your writing excite you? Did it move you to tears? Did it make you angry on behalf of the characters? Did it make you laugh? If not, it’s time to go back and find out why not. And if it did, could you make it better?
Because if your own story doesn’t affect you, it certainly won’t affect anyone else who reads it.
Take heart! It takes time to become a good writer, but you can do it. It just takes writing. LOTS of writing. Then more writing. And just when you can’t take it anymore, do some writing.
Also, learn from others, both good and bad. Hated reading something? Find out what they did wrong and avoid those pitfalls. Loved something? Don’t be slavish to someone else’s style. Just dissect what worked and see if you can apply it to your own writing. For instance, liked Tolkien? Good for you! NEVER, EVER write like him.
Like any other art, you will not be instantly good at writing. If you think you are, you’ll never get better. You need to be terrible first, then as you read and write you start to hew your style out of the gray gelatin block that is your head. Being terrible is a very important first step. It gives you room to expand. And it gives future historical filmmakers the chance to add a training montage to your life story.
Give yourself the freedom to be a terrible writer. Then get better.
If you are certain that you are instantly great at writing without doing any work, then you are THE ONE!© It was promised you would come in the Holy Book!2 Many refused to believe in the prophesy, but we held firm as we burned their houses! We await your command!
In the end, we all write for our enjoyment first. Be pleased with what you are doing, but don’t ever be satisfied. Grow your art! Do better! Learn new words! To thy own self be true! Stop tracking mud across my nice, clean carpet! And stop fidgeting when I am talking to you! Yes, YOU!
Only you can tell your story.
And prevent forest fires.
1. This suggestion brought to you by the advertising firm CB
+P. Remember, writing ad copy for a major advertising firm might not be as soul-destroying as you think it is. It is, but maybe you’ll be the exception!
2. The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr. and E. B. White