One of the biggest challenges aspiring authors face is the learning journey. I’ve seen it often enough. Writing’s taught at school, everyone can write – right?
Of course it’s much harder than that. There is so much to deal with. Fiction writers have to master all the intricacies of structure, characterisation, dialogue, plot and expression. Non-fiction writers have to know how to convey and sustain an argument across the length of a book, and to reduce simultaneity of thought into a linear thread.
That’s without considering the issues of style and voice – the mechanics of writing. One of the outcomes is that authors often learn as they go. The written style at the end of the first book differs from the style at the beginning.
The only fix there is to turn around and start again, re-writing to consistent form. But another is to say ‘I want to write, so I’ll have to learn first’ – and treat the first five books as a learning exercise, never to be published and, ideally, thrown away.
I pretty much guarantee nobody does that, though – in part because most aspiring writers don’t know how challenging it actually is before they start. I didn’t. I long for my teenage days when I could pour stories out, without a care in the world about content other than to know I was writing. And also because the motivaton when starting out is often the emotional journey of writing, the book (‘my novel’) becomes the baby, not a product or an exercise.
Unfortunately the only real way to get good, and to be able to write fast, is to practise. But the learning journey can be broken down. First challenge, to my mind, is mastering the mechanics of getting the words down. Once that becomes automatic, it’s possible to focus on matters of content.
Tackling the nuts-and-bolts of actually writing first means you’ll be more likely to first find – and be able to fully control – the voice and tone of what you’re writing. That is a huge advantage when trying to present content, whether fiction or non-fiction.
Mastery of the words also means you can control the length – and won’t get hooked up on word-count as a goal. It isn’t.
In the next few weeks I’m going to run through some of the ways of mastering the mechanics of writing. I hope you’ll join me on the journey.
Copyright © Matthew Wright 2014
Shameless self promotion:
Available on iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/nz/book/bateman-illustrated-history/id835233637?mt=11
Buy the print edition: http://www.batemanpublishing.co.nz/ProductDetail?CategoryId=96&ProductId=1410