Reflecting on recent lessons learned, I made this list of highlights, all to do with being a writer.
• If the passive voice were to be used along with conditional or subjunctive or some such mood, and if I were to be given material from a client that happened to include such longwinded and painstakingly constructed language, it might be possible that, as the person being compensated for simplifying the client’s material so that a stranger to the topic might be able to comprehend it, I found myself reducing a lengthy sentence into one declarative statement of few words.
• Varying the sentence lengths in a long-form piece rocks.
• My clients and the writers in my writer group are excellent at teaching me how to improve my writing.
• Also, the fictional Emily Starr, protagonist of Lucy Maud Montgomery‘s trilogy, reminds me to keep at it. Emily’s writing career can be a great example of persistence and doggedness, traits that can get the work done, done well, and out the door.
• As rewarding as writing is for its own sake, it is also cool to see a book you wrote on the shelf of a local bookstore. [Hazard of visiting my books at the bookstore: Now I want to read all the other books on the shelf….]
• It’s also even cooler to be paid for books that sold off that shelf.
• Humor comes in lots of flavors and strengths. It’s often just the ticket (even in nonfunny writing).
• Writing can be a pleasure, and a blank page an invitation. When it isn’t, it can be worthwhile to explore why that is. Sometimes even a small change can switch it back into something that feels OK or even good.
• Writers have a lot to learn from their readers. Sending out the completed book or story or article doesn’t need to be the end of a writer’s (one-sided) connection with readers. Some readers want to know more about – even get acquainted with – the author of that thing they enjoyed reading. And in non-creepy ways.
• Beta readers are generous. When someone volunteers to read your new work before it’s released or published, and then gives you structured, useful feedback about it – that’s pretty much the ideal gift. At least for a writer. Well, online reviews are pretty wonderful, too, now that you mention it.
• A writer group can make a wannabe writer into a legit one. So can a writing coach. It’s like water on a stone. Slowly, over time, edges are delineated, and rough surfaces polished.
• There’s always more to learn.
— A M Carley writes fiction and nonfiction, and is a founding member of BACCA. Her company, Chenille Books, provides creative coaching and manuscript development services to authors. Her first nonfiction book, FLOAT • Becoming Unstuck for Writers, is available for purchase at Central Virginia booksellers and on Amazon. #becomingunstuck