Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Preparing for a Writing Career

by Elizabeth S. Craig, @elizabethscraig

3555655023_f962515b96_mI was interviewed recently and one of the questions I was asked was what type of preparation or training I’d received to become a novelist. I think the person asking the question thought that I had an MFA (Master of Fine Arts.)

Which, actually, I don’t. I have a BA and was an English major. Although I wrote a lot in school and read and discussed some amazing literature, I didn’t take a single creative writing class.

Writing isn’t a normal kind of job. Well, it is from the aspect that you have to practice it to improve your skill, but it’s not like becoming a doctor where you have to go to graduate school and then intern at a hospital before moving on to private practice. You can go that route, if you’re interested in grad school. But you don’t have to go that route to become a writer.

These things could help:

Reading. Most of the writers I know are avid readers…and would like to spend more time reading than they’re able to. Writers usually love words and playing around with arranging them to achieve different effects.

Looking at the world through a lens. Being an observer. Sometimes I feel like everything is a story—that I frame life like a story. So when the kids tell me about their day at school….I’m hearing a story (hopefully a non-fiction one.) :)

Practicing. It’s really the only way to improve.

Determination. I think we all have to be determined or even stubborn to protect our writing time or to have the guts to submit our writing for publication.

Time management skills. In this age of distraction, time management skills are key.

Discipline. This goes hand in hand with time management.

And I’ll just end this by saying that you don’t need a published book to call yourself a writer. If you write, you’re a writer, plain and simple. And even if you’d rather not tell people you’re a writer (a lot of pressure can come with that announcement), just acknowledging it to yourself can make a big difference in your attitude and approach to the craft.

What skills or preparation do you think are helpful for writers? Can you add to my list?

Image: Flickr user Lawrence OP