Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Aspiring Advice: Beginners Paranoia

So you want to write, huh? Excellent. Welcome aboard. This is a late Aspiring Advice post, which will be the post for the week, seeing as Christmas Day falls on Friday this year. Whether you're using a computer, a typewriter, or pen and paper, the first step is to begin. I recommend that you plan your story ahead before you actually start, but that's another topic for another time. What I want to stress here relates again to my personal growth as a writer.

When I first started The Origin, I let my mother read the prolog . . . I mean, prologue. She thought it was interesting, but "needed work." I can't remember exactly everything that she said, but I remember feeling crushed. Because of this, I decided to write the whole thing on an old computer with Windows 95, not connected to the Internet, without ever showing what I've written to anyone. My ideas were just "so cool" that, if I shared them with anyone, they might (gasp) . . . steal them! This is beginners paranoia. It doesn't matter if you're writing on a computer with Internet access. In fact, do use a computer with Internet access. You can look up words, synonyms, and brush up on things that you don't know much about, but would like to use in your prose.

About sharing your works with others. It is important that you not show your work to just anyone. Start with family members and friends that you trust, particularly those who are avid readers (ex: someone who reads at least one book every two weeks). Furthermore, do not fear criticism. If someone tells you that your writing "needs work" or "is crap" or "is a waste of five pages", chances are they're right! When you write a story, you're offering something to an audience. Like many movies, not everyone likes them. Even if you write the greatest feat of literature of all time, someone will hate it. Don't worry about these people. What you must do is open yourself up to suggestions and think of criticism as an opportunity to grow. One of the best ways you can do this is by attending a critique group or a writers club. These writers have been practicing the craft for some time, maybe longer than you. They may have some tips to share. Do a google search for "writer's groups in _city/town/state". When I did this, I discovered the League of Utah Writers. I've been a member for over a year now. It's proved to be an invaluable resource. You should do the same.

Don't worry about copyrights. When you write something on paper, it is yours. I don't recommend you post your works online, simply because you may want to edit them over time.

That's it for this week. I'll have something for you to look at through Christmas Eve.
Happy Holidays, everyone.

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