Becoming a writer is something I never thought I could do because it was somehow always out of reach; unachievable. Why? Because my friends were writers creating works of arts with words and I scribbled ideas down on paper, telling stories as I would to my friends (not the right way to write).
Anyway, a few months ago, in my naivete, I submitted one of my works into a writer’s workshop at a sci-fi/fantasy convention. The days leading up to the meeting were full of second thoughts and trepidations, but, boy, did I learn a lot.
Most of what the professionals told us were general tips, but to someone new to writing, it was like a whole new world opening up. To hear authors talking about their trade was very informative and exciting because that is their lifestyle, it is what they do for a living. They talk about this piece that they’re working on, and also the next one, and the next.
One question that came up frequently was about their daily writing processes. There were many different answers. One author would write two thousand words a day, everyday. Another felt lucky to get through one chapter in a day. But the main point was that all of them had to write everyday. They don’t wait for inspiration to strike and for every word to be perfect; that’s what editing is for.
Another interesting topic was how all the authors handled the editing process. Some would edit the content written the day before then continuing on with the story. Some wrote until they reached the end of their story and then went back and edited the whole thing. Some had clean first drafts and just sent them to their editor without a separate editing process. It was interesting to hear the different methods and to think about which styles were adoptable and which were just not for my style of writing.
Then came the point where I sat down with my assigned professionals as they went over my work. I was honored that they took the time to carefully go over my work and they pointed out really interesting things.
I had to work on getting the world that is in my head out on paper because though I had a clear picture of it, one wrong detail could send the reader off building a world that you did not intend. I had to establish the main character’s identity better for the readers so that readers were able to connect with the character and imagine the story through their eyes rather than wonder who was narrating. I had to work on how I gave readers information and make sure that it was necessary and interesting. I had to interpret events for the reader because that is their only indication of what is going on, through what I tell them.
There was a lot that I needed to work on and, as with any good critique, I felt utterly grateful, but also like I had run through a meat grinder. I think they could tell because they followed it up with a sentiment that was echoed throughout the whole convention:
You write, and therefore, you are a writer.
Comparing myself to those who have had the training and have the credentials and published books had made me feel as though I would never reach the pedestal I had somehow put them up on. Cheri is a real writer because her writing is beautiful and moving and she has been published. The authors that I had seen were real because it was their living, but at what point would I allow myself to be seen as a real writer?
The answer was as soon as I started writing my story. It’s important to remember that as we go through the many ups and downs that come with completing tales. I write short stories and I’m working on a novel and when I remind myself that I’m a writer, it somehow gives me the push to get to that daily word count or to start that half brained idea of a story.
So no matter where you are in your writing career, know that you have the write stuff. (I believe in you!)