When I was young, I lived in a writer vacuum - for many years I didn't know other writers, didn't show my work to anyone, and had no idea how to compare my skills to anyone else's. In today's post, mystery author George Wier gives some advice I really wish I had received way back as a newbie writer, when I was terribly insecure and desperate for validation.
Don’t ask for advice, from me or anyone else, as to whether or not your writing is any good. You see, you already know everything you need to know, even at such a young age. It’s your language. You can speak it better than many another adult I’ve met. If you can speak it and you can read it, then you can write it as well. On top of that, I would assert that you can pick up a book by anyone else, read the first few sentences, paragraphs, or perhaps pages, and know instantly whether it is any good. You can make a snap judgment about it, and that judgment will be found to be unfailing. It will be one hundred percent correct, as far as you are concerned, every single time. All you have to do is apply that selfsame objective ability to judge to your own work. It’s easy, but it may require a little practice at first.
Next, don’t stop what you’re doing. Keep writing just as you are, and if possible, as fast as you can. Most people believe that the purpose of writing is to produce a book or a short story, a paper, a pamphlet, an article—something that someone else is going to read. This is downright wrong. No, the purpose of writing is...to write. I know that’s going to sound overly simple, but truth is always startlingly simple. It is the journey, not the destination, that is important. And that is success. Success isn’t at the end. It’s right there—a young woman writing furiously away, practicing her craft, learning from herself how to turn a phrase—how to make it just right. It’s the exploration of your own inner world and the expansion of that world toward the end of all horizons. It’s the expression and the inflection of being. So don’t stop. Don’t even hesitate. Let it flow until you fill the world with oceans of your words. And make them good ones, while you’re at it.
And here we are at the end and the sum total of everything I can say on the subject. That is all of it in these few paragraphs. You see, I had to come full circle to the young fellow I once was, sitting on a lounge chair writing furiously away. It’s taken me all these many years to figure out that the innermost secrets of the whole craft was something I was already doing. Along the way in life you’re going to get advice on the subject of writing from practically everyone you meet, because like me, you really enjoy the subject itself, and want to hear everything there is to hear about it, and from practically any person, whether they’re a reader, a famous author, or even—God forbid!—an editor. So the best thing you can do is listen to them and smile and thank them, and then disregard everything they’ve told you. And then go somewhere, find a quiet place—or perhaps a noisy one; sometimes that helps too—and just write.
So there. That’s it.
Have a wonderful journey, creative young lady. I wish you words. And plenty of them.
George Wier is the author of the popular Bill Travis Mystery series, and a number of other standalone mysteries. He also writes science fiction and steampunk.
In his own words: "I currently live in Austin with my lovely wife, Sallie, along with two cats and two dogs. I began writing in earnest in 1986, although I have been creatively writing far longer than that. I find that I have far more ideas than I could ever write down, and so I pick and choose only the best story ideas. I write what I, myself, like to read, and nothing more. I am always happy to talk to a reader and would dearly love to hear your comments."
Visit George's website, connect with him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.