Monday, May 26, 2008

Newbies and Learning the Craft

Do you remember the thrill you got the first time you picked up a pen? The butterflies in your gut, the dry mouth, sweaty palms? Remember the tremble in your fingers as you stared at the page before you?

If you've answered yes to any of these questions than you're on the right track. Regardless of whether you've written a year or ten years, if you're dedicated to your craft but don't feel any emotions when you begin to right something is wrong.

I've been writing for years, and I still get butterflies every time I start a new project. Does that mean that I'm a green-horn with no skill? Does that mean it takes me weeks to come up with a plot that's believable? No. Not even a novice is like that. It simply means that writing is for me as much of a rush as bungee jumping for the next guy/gal.

I was talking to a friend of mine recently who asked a lot of questions and it got me to thinking. What does it mean to be a novice? How do we as writers develop our skills? Some say practice, others say our work writes itself. But while neither is right, neither is wrong.

Despite my experience writing I consider myself relatively inexperienced. Why you ask? Because unlike authors like Heather Graham or Judy Garwood or even Louis L'amour - I haven't been around the world and back again. There are authors out there that spend years researching for a book. They travel the route their characters are bound to take, they experience their hero/heroine's life for themselves (within reason - you can't experience being a vampire or a ghost) before they ever put their thoughts on paper or feel confident enough to submit it.

For each of us, learning to write a good novel or novella - I will differentiate on these at a later date for those who don't know the terms - is a matter of baby steps. No one has ever sat down and said here's the equation for writing that NY Best Seller. Write what moves you. Write about love or hate, passion or boredom. Fact or Fiction has to be who you are.

If you've got an idea then write it down. You have to learn to crawl before you can walk, and walk before you can run. I believe everyone who has a soul can be a writer - and I hope that those who read this article come to learn this.