“A professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit.”
~ Richard Bach
If you are a writer struggling with the dream of becoming a professional writer, don’t quit.
Persistence is the key, and hard work. Set some firm goals for today, this week, this month, this year and for the next five years. Write down these goals – then go for them. Don’t even think about quitting.
Word by word, chapter by chapter, story by story, poem by poem you will become a professional writer.
You may not reap fame or fortune – very few do. Most professional writers who diligently pursue their dreams make a reasonable living from their labours.
And while you are becoming a professional writer you will have the satisfaction that you are doing what you love – writing.
“Words need to be crafted, not sprayed. They need
to be fitted together with infinite care.”
~ Norman Cousins
When I am writing a short story, novel or blog post I generally just blaze away with the writing, trying to get down the ideas or story before it escapes.
After finishing, I go back over the text and edit, edit, edit until I’ve ironed out all of the spelling mistakes, typos, grammatical blunders and missing or wrongly used punctuation. All in a day’s work.
Then starts the interesting stage: rewriting.
Some sentences or even whole paragraphs or passages just don’t work, they don’t sing, they lack sparkle. They are limping along barely able to support themselves, let alone adding to the story. (Notice that last sentence? Originally I had ‘dead in the water.’ Shoot those over worked cliches. )
I used to hate rewriting. Now I look forward to the process because I know that it will certainly add so much to my writing.
When writing poetry you are faced with a totally different world.
- Poetry is concise; there is no room for waffle.
- Poetry is precise; it has to use the exact right word in the right place.
- Poetry is concentrated language; every word must count.
- Poetry must be ‘carefully crafted’ and not words sprayed at random.
- Poetry must consist of words ‘fitted together with infinite care.’
To approach poetry in any other way is not only careless, it is laziness.
“You’ve got to love libraries. You’ve got to love books. You’ve got to love poetry. You’ve got to love everything about literature. Then, you can pick the one thing you love most and write about it.” Ray Bradbury
I love libraries – all those books on all those different topics, all those wonderful adventures to be enjoyed and pictures to be enjoyed. In fact, I love libraries so much that in another life I was a librarian for about eight years. I loved buying new books for the library – especially seeing it wasn’t my money buying the books!
I love books too. I have a huge collection of books. I can’t bear to get rid of any books. Throwing out a book is akin to loosing a child. Talking of children, I love visiting my adult children, especially my daughter, so that I can become reacquainted with a part of my library. To be fair, some of her books grace my library shelves – only on a temporary basis of course – until I’ve read them.
I always loved poetry too and I’ve written my fair share of poems, from the slightly ridiculous, to the positively banal and some that are absolutely brilliant (IMHO). This year my skills at writing poetry have had a great boost while doing my Master of Arts in Creative Writing course.
But back to the quote from Bradbury.
Writers must be readers. Read widely and voraciously. Love and cherish books. Get your hands on as many as you can; read, read, read, devouring books in numbers.
Then you can pick the one genre or form or discipline you love most, and then write what you love.
Good reading and writing.