Wednesday, May 28, 2014

The Author’s Apprenticeship

From Apprentice to Master Craftsman

Like all worthwhile crafts, to be successful at it takes time, dedication and constant practice.
It took me years to become a published author and, when I started out, I was very raw (and no spring chicken either).
Allow me to share with you here some of the steps I took along the way.

1) Doodle – scribble your inspirational thoughts onto paper. Write prose and poetry. Never throw anything away – one day you might turn those ideas in a novel (I did).

2) Write and submit ‘Letters to the Editor’ of magazines or newspapers. I still have the cutting of the first article that ever bore my by-line (name).

3) Take on a newssheet editorship (a neighbourhood or hobby group perhaps), or become a regular contributor to an association’s magazine. Usually this is on a voluntary basis. (For several years I was editor of a Goat Association’s newsletter).

4) If you write on subjects about which you know a lot, you will find the words flow easily. Submit your work to magazines. But if/when you are published – don’t be disappointed if you don’t make much money from it. (I was paid $80 for my first published article.)

5) Try writing in various forms and genres – step outside your comfort zone – you might be pleasantly surprised at what you are capable of.

6) Belong to a local or on-line critique group, or form your own. Read other writers’ work. Observe how they write, plot, build tension and create characters. Compare your strengths and weaknesses with other writers, and in the process get used to accepting criticism (most important).

7) Enter writing competitions for short stories or poetry. Submissions generally cost money and they are very competitive, but this is an excellent exercise to make you follow and write within the parameters that have been set.

8) Become a member of a writing organisations in your town, state/county or country. Attend meetings. Contribute.

9) Follow social media pages (on Facebook) for aspiring authors, creative writing, promotion, fiction, poetry, short stories etc. There are dozens to choose from. You can learn a lot by lurking but you will learn more from participating and interacting on these pages.

10) Attend Writer’s conferences – be prepared to travel and accept the costs. It is not only the advice learned from the keynote speakers that is invaluable to you but the social networking with other delegates. Plus the boost to your confidence and enthusiasm is an added bonus and it costs absolutely nothing.

11) Study the craft of writing through on-line courses, correspondence, evening classes. (I did them all). Initially I undertook a course in Freelance Journalism by correspondence. I followed this with a Children’s Writing correspondence course, then in 2001 I embarked on a Bachelor Degree in Writing. My first novel was published in England in 2005.)

12) When you feel you are ready and the muse grabs you – sit down and write the novel you always knew you had inside you.

Margaret Muir (writing historical fiction) M.C. Muir (writing nautical fiction)


Lynn said...

These are all good ideas. One of the best things to do if you want to write, is to do it. If you did 750 words a day, in 10 days you'd have 7500 and in 20 days you'd have 15000.

Drafting precedes writing, just as writing precedes editing.

Who will write your book if you do not?
Author of You Want Me to Do WHAT? Journaling for Caregivers (and others)

M. C. Muir said...

I agree Lynn, consistent work (even though at times you feel you are writing rubbish, will pay off). It's important to get your words down on paper. You can go back and revisit them later.
Another thing is to get your work out into the public areana - on a blog, a competition entry or a manuscript submission.
You will never become famous for a WORD doc. file that has been sitting in your computer for years.

Louise E. Rule said...

Great post. I was 66 when my first book was published. Now I'm writing the next.