Monday, January 1, 2018

2018 Challenge: Mature as a Writer and/or Storyteller

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On January 1, 2016, I challenged writers to "Go Rogue" and use our power as writers to push the envelope for good. This year I've been thinking about how I might challenge writers for 2018. What's on my mind this January 1, 2018, is for each of us to mature as a writer and/or a storyteller. (Share that.)

I'm thinking about this because recently I've seen comments from writers, people who wish to write, writers who wish to get their books or articles published, as well as screenwriters who'd like their scripts produced, that reveal their work might not quite be ready. I can tell by what they say that their writing has not yet matured to a place where it is publishable or producible because of comments that reveal the don't understand genres or the differences in what publishers publish or producers produce.

Discovering we're not "mature" in what we do is hard to take. I know because I've discovered myself there at times. I can see in my past where I thought my writing had matured, and yet I was not seeing the publishing results that I wanted. Now, looking back with the distance of time, I can see how my writing just wasn't ready yet. I couldn't see it for myself at the time. I thought I was mature. Have you ever thought about why we always think we're mature and then later realize we're not?

Maturity, I think, can be deceiving and elusive -- even for writers. (Share that.) Doesn't it seem that wherever we are in life, we think we're mature?

Think of a young child telling her Mom, "I can do it myself!" and struggling to tie her shoes. Or a first grader who is so much more mature than a kindergartner. What about the senior in high school who is so much more mature than a sixth grader, or a college senior who is light years ahead of that high school senior. By the time we're twenty (or thirty...or forty) we're sure we're really mature now. And we are... comparatively.

But maturing never stops as long as we're on this earth. And writers are no different.

I'm sure wherever we are, we think we're mature. And we are... comparatively. As long as we've continued to grow. But we also thought we were mature writers two years ago and, if we've continued to write, we have matured more. Then, of course, we think we're really mature now! Two years from now, what will we think? That we weren't really as mature of a writer as we thought we were?

So, what's my point? My point is, as writers we need to continue to mature -- in our ability to write well, in our ability as storytellers, in every way -- so that at some point we will cross that elusive line that puts us in the place where we are finally published or produced. (And even then the maturing should not end.)  (Share that.)

How do we get there? I can think of three ways all writers can continue to mature in their writing. There may be other ways to mature in our writing, but without doing these three consistently, I don't believe any writer can mature. (Share that.)

Write

It is impossible to mature as a writer without actually writing. Occasionally I meet a wanna-be writer who is studying and preparing but who thinks he won't write until he knows enough that whatever he writes will be a success. Like riding a bicycle, you can't learn how to do it without actually doing it -- and failing.

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Don't be afraid of failing in your writing. It's all profitable because it's all training on the road to success. Rejection of your writing when you submit it is never fatal. (Share that!)

I don't think it matters what you write: articles, books, fiction, non-fiction, screenplays, short stories. Just write. If you're not sure where to start, write something short, like an article, a 1,200-word true story for Chicken Soup for the Soul, or a short fictional story. Write a children's book, either fiction or nonfiction. Any of that is great training for writing longer pieces like novels, novellas, or non-fiction books.

We learn and mature by writing.

Study

Study writing. Study story and story structure and how-to write books.

Study publisher's guidelines and writers market books to learn what they want to publish. Study grammar and good writing.

Take a workshop online or attend a writers conference. Get out some old tapes or DVDs of workshops and listen to them again.

Get a new book about writing (or get one off your shelf you bought but haven't read yet. I have lots of those.). Which overlaps with the next section...

Read

If we want to mature as writers, we cannot neglect learning from others who are ahead of us. Writers must make time to read.

          Read what you want to write.

If you want to write for magazines, read the magazines you want to write for. (Or, if you love reading a certain magazine(s), that's probably a good market for you to write for!)

If you want to write novels, read novels in the genre you want to write in. Learn from them. Pay attention to how the author did things, like how she presented information, introduced characters, gave backstory, grew suspense, did dialogue.

If you want to write screenplays, read screenplays.

If you want to write children's books, you should be reading them.

          Read how-to writing books.

I'm building a collection of writing books and products that I recommend. Find my recommendations in Dianne's Online Store.

          Read blogs.

There are so many great blogs out there it can be overwhelming. Here are a few of my favorites:

On writing books:


On marketing books:


On writing children's books:


Finally, join Goodreads Reading Challenge and challenge yourself to read more this year. I love tracking what I get read each year. That helps me read more. I didn't get nearly as much reading done last year as I wanted to. I want to step it up in 2018.

I hope this coming year is a wonderful year for you of growing and maturing as a writer and/or a storyteller and making your publishing dreams come true.

Tweetables:  

#Writers, here's a challenge and helps for maturing in your #writing this year. (Share this.)

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