Monday, March 3, 2014

Throwing In My Two Cents...


When I was asked to contribute to the IWSG website, I wondered what advice I would give to writers. My first thought was... well... I’ve only been writing fiction for just under 3 years now. That’s not a whole lot of experience and there are a plethora of well-established writers out there. These are peeps who have been writing from way back when. Many have written and published two or three, or more books.
They have decades of writerly knowledge to impart to the hordes of up-and-coming writers who are out there searching for writerly nuggets, that one piece of info that will give you the edge over other wannabe’s...

Me? Give advice? Ha! But I’ve been acting. Did you really think that I know much about writing? It’s all an elaborate act. That’s what I’ve been doing all along. And sure, it’s gotten me this far, but if I tell you guys that, then what!? DANG.
*moment of red-handedness*

BUT... upon further pondering and much, much deliberation, *ahem* I’ve decided that maybe I do have some advice to impart. It’s not much, but it’s all that you need... for today anyway... and remember that the human brain can only process a limited amount of information at any given time...
So settle in and and let me squeeze these dregs of knowledge out of my brain and into your listening ears.

Know that you are not unique. For the budding wordsmith, (newbies sit up and listen) it’s easy to believe that you’re part of a small, chosen few—an intellectual elite of creative geniuses. During this stage, you might think that people will fall over themselves to publish whatever it is you are writing. So, to a new writer, I would say get on social media. Just poke your head in (whatever you do, don’t get stuck there...) and you’ll see that writers are not a rare breed. The writing world is flooded.  It seems like every person is writing a book that he/she hopes to see published one day. Understand these odds now, because when you finish that book and start shopping it around, you’ll learn that the publishing world has many varied problems. Scarcity of writers is not one of them.

Know that you are unique. So now I’m contradicting myself. Though you may be surrounded by thousands of other writers advocating for their books, you must never lose sight of the fact that you have something to offer. You have something to add to this vast conversation. Something different. You have your own story to tell, based on the sum of  your life knowledge/experiences/interests/goals/challenges/positives/negatives. That makes for a powerful and unique story. So don’t let the masses frighten you off;  stake your claim in the market and let your voice be heard. You might be part of an enormous writer cosmos, but that shouldn’t stop you from shining.
And there you have it!

By the way, I’ve just started a new part-time teaching position and I’ve been asked to submit a proposal to start up a writing club.

Not bad for a novice writer, hey?

22 comments:

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Basically, keep it grounded. You're not a genius, but you do have something valuable to contribute.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

There are SO many people writing and putting out books now. Which is all the more reason to be unique so you'll stand out in the crowd.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

I like your advice. And starting up a writing club sounds very cool. Good luck with the new teaching position.

Rachna Chhabria said...

Great advice Michelle. Its important to be unique. And stay grounded.

Pat Hatt said...

Not as unique as I think I am? Damn, I'll have to try harder lol

cleemckenzie said...

Very good post. Very sensible and on track. Good luck with that writing group. I'll bet you have a great turnout.

Andrew Leon said...

This reminds me of this thing Neil Gaiman said about this time he was telling his agent about how is then current WIP, American Gods (I'm pretty sure), sucked and that he was a horrible writer, etc etc, and she said made a comment about having been expecting that particular call and he asked why and she said something about how it was about that time in the progress of any book that the author would call her and tell her how much s/he sucked and the book was horrible and all of that.
And he realized that he was not even unique in his pain and grovelling.
heh

Denise Covey said...

Starting a writing club sounds awesome Michelle. This is a great post for IWSG. Writers are not alone...someone has been through the same pain and joy, but our voice is unique.
Hope the teaching is going well and you did the Malala speech. :)

jamieayres.com said...

Not bad, not bad at all . . . :-)

Carrie-Anne Foster said...

Been blogging for just over two weeks and um ya. Lots and lots and lots of writers. But the best thing, is those writers are so helpful and supportive. I've yet to encounter a 'I am too good to talk to you' person.

Thank you for the tips. Very useful and very true.

Patricia Lynne said...

Good bits of advice. It's something even seasoned writers should remember.

J.L. Campbell said...

You go, Michelle! Good writing advice if you ask me. As writers, we're trapped between thinking we're really special and knowing there are tons of others worse than, as good as or better than us.

Christine Rains said...

Wonderful post! And congrats on your new position as well as the club. :)

Heather Musk said...

Great advice Michelle, it's good to stay grounded in this mad crazy world of writing.

Good luck with the writing club.

Doreen McGettigan said...

Absolutely true on both counts.
Good luck with the writing club (I love mine) and congratulations on the teaching position!

Melissa said...

I'm approaching 2000 followers on Twitter... and the vast majority of those are writers. If that's not a cold dose of reality, I don't know what is.

Great post!
Good luck with your club. :)

Michelle Howard said...

Great advice. I think you had plenty to say :)

Michelle Wallace said...

Alex, grounded works for me... I can do that... (btw, are geniuses grounded individuals LOL)

Susan, I submitted the proposal today.

Rachna, I'll keep my feet planted firmly on the ground.

Pat, you're the essence of uniqueness... no question about that. LOL

C.Lee, I like to think that I'm sensible. When the club takes off, I'm hoping to start with a manageable group.

Andrew, I'm trying to imagine him saying that to his agent... seems weird. LOL

Denise, I'm planning that speech delivery carefully as I want it to be a memorable lesson.

Jamie, thank you.

Carrie-Anne, I'm glad the tips helped you and good luck with the blogging.

Patricia Lynne, so true.

Joy, it's an awkward spot, hey?

Christine, thank you.

Heather, a mad and crazy business, for sure.

Doreen, thank you.

Melissa, that's a LOT of chirping going on... how do you manage it?

scruffy-duck.net said...

Good advice. A lot of writers (well people in general) suffer from 'special snowflake' syndrome. But people are special, and wonderful at the same time.

Debra McKellan said...

This is the best advice ever. haha

And though you've written for a short time, you always have good advice.

Toinette Thomas said...

I love this. It's so honest and encouraging. It helps you face reality without giving up on your dream. Way to go!

Michelle Wallace said...

Michelle Howard, I did have lots to say, after all... LOL

Scruffy-duck, I may have to visit Mr.Google to find out more about "special snowflake" syndrome...

Debra, so glad you like the advice...

Toinette, at heart, I AM a realist... that doesn't always help...