Take a look at this interesting article by J.D. Cowan, readers:
How to Pick up a Pen
“I’m not an author, I’m a writer, that’s all I am. Authors want their names down in history; I want to keep the smoke coming out of the chimney.” ~ Mickey Spillane
It’s been awhile, so let us talk about the topic of writing. Just before Lent it appeared to be showing up all over social media in earnest, so it is clear there are many questions aspiring authors have. I’ll do my best to answer them in this post from the position of someone who will have been published by publishers and publishing my own works for near 5 years, at this point. It hasn’t felt much like it’s been that long, so it’s still a bit wild to think about. Being a professional writer is not a job I ever thought I would have in my lifetime.
And yet here I am, writing this very post.
Nonetheless, this post will be about learning how to become a writer. If someone like me can do it, then so can you. I was the least creative of my friend groups growing up, and the one who read the least, yet I am the one who is now the very opposite of all of them, do to making it my goal to learn story craft. Anyone can do it, so don’t ever convince yourself that you aren’t built for it. Talent merely gives you a head start: it will not keep you running the whole race. Only hard work matters, in the end. As long as you keep learning you can do just about anything.
The important part is learning the right way to handle things, which is definitely the trickiest part of being a writer. The main issue is that most of the advice comes from OldPub figures thinking with a 20th century mindset. It’s all simply outdated.
One of the most common complaints I received from The Pulp Mindset, apart from being too mean to the above OldPub, is that several of the readers wished I went more in-depth on my writing tips, of which I was intentionally light on. Of course, they knew why I couldn’t elaborate further–that simply wasn’t the point of the book, but it was a valid request nonetheless.
However, I also believe there are far too many books on writing out there in the market. Most will not help new writers because just about all of them contain contradictory advice, and many do not remember what it was like starting out and being adrift without a paddle to row them to shore. I myself went through many writing books when learning how to write and I can’t say any of them really influenced me much. Every writer simply absorbs information differently, which means explaining their specific process isn’t really going to aid confused newbies. What is more important is learning how to put a pen to paper, so to speak, and how to keep in there for the entire duration of your very first project. You need to learn the Why of writing before you begin, not the How.