One of the best things that has happened to me since I’ve started “writing” for reals has been finishing the first draft of my first novel and applying my (personally) patented systems analysis process of learning about a new area of interest in my life.
Picture if you will that classic sitcom scene where the husband tries to put something into or take something out of that hall closet which is home to all his failed hobby gear. Hilarity usually ensues as about a ton of basketballs, tennis shoes, clubs, gloves, whatever come tumbling down and around the bewildered man (or woman. Guessing this all applies to you as well 😉 )
My closet is filled with the trappings of the work I’ve done on exploring and learning how certain things work. For instance, over the past year and a half I’ve read no less than 20 books on food, cooking, the industry of food production, etc. Most of those books are on one of my shelves (a real one, not just sitting precariously in my “hall closet” waiting to pummel me next time I try and over load it with yet another exploratory journey.)
Before that it was social media marketing.
Before that it was screen writing.
Before that it was Linux server administration.
Before that it was… well, get the idea?
My “closet” is certainly stockpiled.
At the beginning of this year I decided that I’d really give myself a shot at writing. I went against all that is holy and instead of diving into “learning about writing” I just said “WTF? Let’s Go” and started off to write the next great novel.
After having finished a draft I can whole heartedly say, “WTF? What were you thinking? This sucks. Please ask your editor friend to stop reading it immediately. Save his cycles for something that could actually be good.”
No, I’m not just being a whiny writer type who doesn’t like the first things he produces. This is genuine rubbish. The good thing is I know that to be the truth. What I didn’t know is what to do about it.
Because I’m an idiot who knows absolutely nothing about the craft of story telling. True story.
The good news (I’m sure you’re wondering when the hell the point is going to arrive, so here it is 😉 ) is that old habits die hard. That afore mentioned editor friend had the foresight to know that I wouldn’t be satisfied with just slapping words on a page. He would slip little posts into my feed reader about sites that I might find interesting. Sites focusing on the art, science, the craft of writing.
Suddenly, my nearly empty reader is filling up with subscriptions to a wide variety of highly informative, and nearly always entertaining sites that are nudging me towards a better understanding of the world of writing.
There’s J.A. Konrath’s A Newbies Guide To Publishing Warning: this site will fill you with knowledge and information about the business side of being an independently published ebook author. You may decide that writing and making a living is what you’ve been meant to do your whole life. You have been warned!
Writer Unboxed presents real, honest to goodness authors talking about all manners of things related to the writing life. In fact, if you subscribe to their posts, you might get lucky enough to find yourself directed to
StoryFix.com and once you’re there, you’ll have no choice but to learn about Larry Brook’s recent how to book, Story Engineering.
And that’s the point. If you’re lucky enough like me to have just about zero experience writing anything more than SEO length articles for readers without eyes, then finding a resource to help guide you through the writing wilderness is going to come as quite the relief.
To be fair, I’m only about 60% of the way through Brook’s book. The last 40% just might suck royally. It could, however, continue to live up to the amazing levels I’ve been absorbing thus far. Sure I could have sat up and read the entire thing the first day I downloaded it to my Kindle PC app (as well as my Kindle Android app. There are times and places where continuing my training must take place away from my PC. Shhh 😉 )
(OH, BTW, that Amazon link above is for the Kindle version. If you’re interested in learning what to write, and when to write it, you’ll want to get this book NOW. Having something tangible in your hands is nice. How to books that you’ll end up using as references are nice as well. And I might just order a hard copy of Story Engineering for just that purpose (or more likely to fill in that spot on my “closet” so I can say I’ve done the “how to write” thing later!))
This book is likely not for you. Sorry, but it’s true. As Brooks tells us repeatedly throughout the thing, if you are an organic, writes by the seat of their pants type, you’re not likely to take well to the depth and breadth of knowledge SE has available for you.
It’s also not for you if you were the type of student that sat in class listening to your teachers repeat, again and again, some salient point that needed to be wedged into your skull. If you ever made comments to yourself or Ralphie next to you, “Okay, okay. We get it already. Move on, teach.” This is likely not going to be your cup of tea.
But if you’re a dummy idiot like I am when it comes to writing, please at least click through and read more about how this book is going to help you understand that you don’t know what you don’t know.
Again, at only 3/5 of the way through, I already know more of what sucks about my story, and how to start fixing it than I’ve ever known about writing from a lifetime of thinking I could be a writer. It’s the many things I didn’t even know that I didn’t know (and am extremely grateful to Mr. Brooks for pointing out to me) in this book which will have me writing an actual, real, and (gasp!) possibly even good story.
But that won’t happen until I’ve worked my way through Story Engineering, absorbed its sage advice and solid game plan for what to write and when to write it.