Wednesday, October 20, 2010

No Jive Five

Sometimes another writer will ask me for suggestions about how to improve or how to get published. After spouting a few canned remarks about working hard and being lucky, I’ll outline a more concrete five-pronged strategy.

Take classes or workshops. Having never taken a creative writing course in my life (the only English class I took in college was Technical Writing), I figured I needed to learn some fundamentals. I started with an Adult Ed class at a local high school, then moved to workshops at The Writer’s Center. Check out your local community colleges for suitable classes, or ask other writers in your area where the workshops are.

Get yourself into a critique group. I believe getting feedback on your work is a terrific way to improve. And critiquing other writers’ works also is very educational. Hook up with other writers at classes and workshops (see above) or connect on-line. Recommendation: Try to find others writing in your genre, at a similar general writing “stage.”

Join a professional organization. A great place to network and hook up with other writers. Learn about both the business and the craft. The conferences are fun, too. (I belong to MWA and ITW.)

Read, read, read. And then read some more.

Write, write, write. And don’t give up!



Anonymous said...

Alan - Those are all good pieces of advice. And I'm so glad you also mentioned reading. One of the best ways to get good at a genre is writing lots of books in that genre. I've learned a lot of "tricks of the trade" that way. Oh, and there's the luck thing, too. It could happen to you ;-)...

Elspeth Futcher said...

Good tips, Alan! I agree with Margot, there's nothing like reading a really well-written book in your genre (or any genre) for inspiration...or depression. It's a gamble, really.

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

Great tips! Especially the reading and writing part...the more we do, the better we get!

Jane Kennedy Sutton said...

I agree with your advice. I met my publisher by joining a local writing group.

Alan Orloff said...

Margot - Plus reading is a good excuse to not have to write.

Elspeth - RIF, Reading is FUNdamental.

Elizabeth - They say a writer doesn't find his "real" voice until he/she has written a million words. I think I lost track around 633,000.

Jane - See? You never know which activity will lead to something else. That's what makes this business so fun.