This is part of a series on how to study fiction, mainly directed at writers who have read all the beginning writing books and are like, “What now?!?” The rest of the series is here.
I’d like to take a moment to interject something that came up in the middle of writing these posts.
I talked to multiple other intermediate- and higher-level writers on this topic, and what they mainly wanted writers going through a transition from beginning to intermediate writing to know was:
- There is no finish line when it comes to learning about writing. You will never run out of things to learn or relearn.
- You will need other writers for sanity and support and getting better as writers more than you can imagine. Invest in networking.
- No words are wasted; nevertheless, there is an immense power in throwing out words.
- Being able to write on command is an essential part of growing as a writer; “mood” can go to hell. If you can’t write on command, you’ll never get in the zone where writing is easy.
- On the other hand, you can’t rate everything about writing in terms of words per minute, or dollars per word. Part of the journey here is becoming as much “yourself” as a writer as possible. In other words, writing isn’t just craft; it’s an art.
- You can’t see the patterns in what you write and what you love to write without a body of actual, finished work.
They also made a lot of smartass comments, but I’ll skip those 🙂
I felt like the journey from being a beginning writer to an intermediate one was very emotional and transformative. There were days when something in my subconscious was running in overdrive so hard I could barely process the world outside me. I went through terrible mood swings on a regular basis–great writer, terrible writer. Great writer, terrible writer.
I believe that any field that is sufficiently complex and creative has a kind of process like this–cooking, music, woodworking, programming, martial arts–where you move away from the limitations and structure of following rules and head out into the wilder territories of, “We’re not sure, but try this…”
I firmly believe it’s a kind of magical process, and should be respected as such. That is, a lot of work that occasionally produces sparks of something that are more than what they came from. It’s wonderful.
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