Not long ago Toby Welch of WestWord Magazine, the Magazine of the Writer's Guild of Alberta, posed a question to Writer's Guild members as to what advice they might have for their beginning writer self and realatively to other beginning writers. The submissions Toby gethered appear in the May - June 2011 edition of WestWord Magazine. I have posted my own response to this question as it appears in WestWord, volume 31, number 3.
“what would you tell yourself if you could write a letter to the writer you were when you first began?”
I have three definite things I would say to me when I first began writing.
The first thing I would say is be patient, both with yourself and with the overall process of becoming good at your craft. Don’t be afraid to experiment and try new things. When I first started I imagined I would just write a lot of great short stories but in the end that was not my best area of writing. I eventually tried other styles; poetry, non-fiction, fiction, magazine articles, business writing, reviews, and commentaries to name a few. Trying different things gave me new awareness of my strengths and weaknesses, directed me to developing new skills and styles, and opened my eyes to a world of previously unseen opportunities.
The second thing I would say is don’t be afraid to network with other writers. Writing can sometimes be a very solitary venture. I have spent countless hours alone with my notebooks or my keyboard not really knowing if what I was producing was worth my efforts or, in the end, marketable. You will get a feel for what feels or sounds right but a critical eye that is not your own is an immeasurable asset. Seek out other writers in your genre or find a trusted friend or mentor to offer some occasional feedback for all your hard efforts.
Finally, the last bit of advice I have for me is have fun. Find ways to enjoy what you are doing and you will truly learn, grow, and develop into the writer you hope to become. Don’t let monotony invade your writing space and don’t allow negativity to dampen your enthusiasm to be a writer. Trust me, there are those who will discourage you and say you are wasting your time daydreaming but eventually someone will read something you have penned and gush praise at your writing ability because you have made the effort to become a good writer and that will be a moment of enormous value.
I invite other aspiring writers and authors to follow these links to learn more about the Writer's Guild of Alberta and the article writer Toby Welch. Toby is an accomplished freelance writer and contributor to WestWord Magazine.