Donít Let Anyone Tell You How To Write!
Somewhere along the way, writing became a profession instead of an expressive art form. Most professional writers that I know are miserable. The few who can get anything published face unrealistic deadlines, the constant threat of unemployment or are forced to write about things that they have no interest in or know too little about. Why? Because they had a desire at sometime in their life to put pen to paper and made the mistake of trying to play by the rules.
The entire system which spits out writers is flawed beyond repair. It accounts for the fact that most people who have a desire to write will never have any hope of getting published in a meaningful way. If they do, what makes it into print is unlikely to resemble anything original. Itís not going to be something which came from that Writerís heart and soul. Instead, itís likely to be a carefully orchestrated and constructed piece created by a mechanical hand whose arm is controlled by those who tell us what people want to read.
The problem begins with the way most writers are trained. In elementary school we were all told to write short stories without much thought given to sentence structure or the rules of grammar. The idea was to develop spelling skills, the ability to tell a story and put it on paper. In Junior High and High School, word usage, the rules of grammar and sentence structure were thrown into the mix. But if youíre experience was similar to mine, creativity was still encouraged and rewarded. Then came college!
Attending your first journalism or creative writing class is like the first day of Marine Boot Camp. You are stripped of everything that makes you an individual and told that all your knowledge is useless. The rules have changed. Your entire purpose on earth suddenly amounts to pleasing an instructor who has probably never written anything read by anyone except other Academics. You are forced to exist inside the unrealistic world of a culture of education that will put itís claws into you and fight like crazy not to let go.
Before you decide to hand your soul over to a hierarchy of untalented hacks, stop and think about how much your creativity is worth? If youíre willing to pay any price to get published, welcome to Creative Writing 101. Just make sure you check your brain and self-expression at the classroom door. Even the slightest attempt at individuality will be met with the threat of failure. Play by their rules, or donít play at all.
If you really want your work to get noticed, be a stand up writer! Stop trying to fit your project into someone elseís box. The three keys to great writing are style, creativity and individuality. The way you tell a story is just as important as the story youíre trying to tell. If you allow someone else to dictate how you tell a story, it becomes theirs, not yours. Allow your individuality to shine through. WRITE IT in the same way you would SAY IT. That provides you with an individual writing style that fosters creativity and makes your work stand out from the rest.
Creativity, individuality and style should be your first consideration, not your last. Too much emphasis is placed on format. While you need to be sure that your writing meets the grammatical and structural standards expected by any potential publisher, itís ridiculous to start there and then fill in the blanks! But thatís exactly what many writers do.
Be flexible when it comes to the way you place your content within a sentence, paragraph or the entire article, essay or manuscript. Create a flow that is natural for you and comfortable for the reader. Donít worry about what some editor will think. Most donít! They just read. If they like what they read, theyíll probably purchase your work. If not, they wonít. But itís a sure bet that after looking at eight hundred manuscripts with exactly the same number of words on each page and all written in the same style, itís possible that one with some individuality might just make it off the slush pile.
Contrary to what most how-to books on getting your writing published say, itís passion that is most likely to impress potential buyers. Writing, in any form, should always be passionate. Itís the passion in a written work that will make the public want to read it. That makes a publisher want to buy it. Before you decide to write a 100,000 word manuscript that reads like all the rest and keeps the format police happy, consider what you might be giving up. It could be that an article or manuscript with your particular personality and passion for your subject is just what a literary agent, publisher or the public is looking for!