Things I’ve learned in writing

The things I’ve learned over forty-two years of writing since my first poem are numerous. All that I’ve learned are either through experience – what worked, what didn’t – and the much-needed instruction and information gleaned from instructors, mentors and successful published authors.

I absorb all that I learn. To get a foothold into a real publishing venue of credible, significant standing it is an ongoing process of self-improvement as a writer. The number of self publishing, vanity type venues that feed their till and their reputation on the cash and costs required of writers wanting to see their name on a book jacket is becoming as long a list as the number of writers needing representation. Who should a writer trust? What can they expect?

I have read reviews, and writers’ stories and complaints of those they relinquished their book manuscripts to, and researched others I wouldn’t trust with what I’ve spent years writing, or trying to perfect. One can take a risk with no guarantee of their legitimate services and find out that they are not what they really claim to be. In the meantime I work at the craft until I have complete confidence that my work or project is worthy of the best representation, and focus on these points hoping to progress along the way.

  • If not nurtured or practiced every day it can become weak, shallow, meaningless words without any depth.
  • Don’t wait for inspiration to come. Life is full of inspiration, every experience, an opportunity. Use them all. 
  • Use words worthy of enticing readers to the first paragraph, page and chapter, reading clear to the end.
  • In fiction, write to compel and draw them in with a plot that makes them feel as if they are there at the scene, with lead and supportive characters they can relate to, identify with, and feel as if they know them personally.  
  • In fiction, write so as to hold the reader’s attention, with well-chosen words, each page and chapter leading to the next, building emotion, suspense, imagery, descriptive scenes. If memorable it will be embedded in their minds. If a non-fiction work the message should have truth, be unforgettable, influential, life changing. It isn’t the subject or genre that matters so much as the substance in choice, and strength of words used to make a point, deliver a message, or tell a story.

Maybe, it can be said that a writer is only as good as the feedback or reviews received from those who read their works. Being conscious of this should be reason enough to work harder at the craft. It is for me, and what drives me onward, to be that kind of writer.          

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Joyce E. Johnson © 2016

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