Friday, May 31, 2013

Steps to Becoming a Writer

I've had people tell me they'd like to write. Well, then, WRITE! Get it all down while you're in the mood. That’s part of a process called “brainstorming”.

I'd suggest you buy cheap spiral notebooks and carry little ones with you. Write your ideas down when inspiration strikes you, right then and there. (If you're driving, wait until you're parked, please.) I say this because not everyone carries their laptop EVERYWHERE. Inspiration could hit you in church or at a funeral, etc. and some people frown upon technology during solemn occasions.

Later, put the events into a timeline. Expect your story to be written and rewritten several times. Your first draft is just ideas from your brain and feelings from your heart. It won't be perfect and it won't be anything like the final product. Then if you're a good typist, go for it, or hire a college student to do the typing for you. It's worth it to hire a typist if you’re like me. I'm terrible at the keyboard. I take a long, long time to type and I have a little dyslexia. (Somewhere, my high school typing teacher Mrs. Theodore is still suffering from a nervous condition caused by my inability to properly use the keys. Lord knows the poor lady tried.)

Then what? Where do you go to refine your story? A writing course would be the next step. I hope you get a good, enthusiastic teacher, one who encourages your creativity over the technical process. I'm not technical. I do know some basics, but that's what my daughter, proofreader and editor are for.

Also, if your community has a writers’ guild, you should join. A good writers’ group will help you and each member by making suggestions. Everyone has a story and only helpful criticism will build up a writer's confidence and creativity. The groups that aren't good are the ones that get a couple "divas" who monopolize the meetings and run your work down. It becomes all about them, a showcase for their poetry and short stories. I've heard about these meetings and I'm happy to tell you, I haven't encountered people like that in any of the writers' groups I've participated in.

When you are satisfied with what you've created, find an editor. They sometimes charge by the page or by the hour, but a good one is worth it. At the very least, if you live near a university, hire a student or teacher's assistant. They need the money and have fresh ideas. They also know the rules of the English language.

Last of all, save your work on at least TWO devices. Keep a thumb-drive in a “firebox” in an envelope with a label on it. I learned this the hard way because my manuscript for the Kindle edition of "Lizzie's Blue Ridge Memories" was on my Dell notebook. It was burned to a crisp on June 24, 2011 when I was involved in a train wreck. People died in front of my family, so losing my little lap-top is insignificant, but I gained valuable knowledge from that experience. I’m grateful that my daughter was able to re-format the entire book for me. Now, I keep my work on a hard drive and copies on paper as well as stored in a secure thumb drive.

Best of luck and blessings to you!

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