Tuesday, April 28, 2009

My Personal Thoughts as a Writer (Part I)

by Tom Mach

©2009 by Tom Mach

I thought I would take a few minutes to give you what insight I can on writing and marketing. Some of this will reflect my own prejudices, so bear with me if you don’t agree 100% with what I’m about to say. My thoughts are not based on books, on English courses, on the wisdom of a tenure-track literature professor, but it’s based on my personal experience.

First, of all I am very suspicious of people who claim they sat down with no training at all, got on a computer, wrote a book, sent it off to a publisher, got it published and made money. I’m sorry, but I think the chances of that happening are slimmer than a herd of elephants running amok in my house.

The truth is: you wouldn’t want to undergo an operation by a person off the street who thought he could do it, with no medical background, training, and degree. You wouldn’t be comfortable being flown in a jet by a lady who wanted to see what it’d be like to fly the darned thing even though she’s never even been in a cockpit. So why in the world do you think you can just crank out a novel, a book of poetry, or a nonfiction work without not only training but extensive experience?

Secondly, I think before you write a novel you ought to get exposure to writing magazine articles. Learn how to write for that particular magazine, study past issues, know the word count, know the reader, query first (don’t write the article beforehand), Then do the things that make the article once you get the “green light” from the editor. Create an interesting beginning paragraph, show some logic of thought while being interesting at the same time, add photographs if necessary to spice up your piece, etc.

Third, write only in the areas of your interest. Some say write only from your personal experience, but I don’t agree with that. Do all the research you need to do before you begin writing. Experience that research, absorb it into your system. I used to write articles on subjects I’ve never personally experienced. I received praise fro my article on river rafting, but I’ve never even been in a raft. I did a great piece on soaring, but I’ve soared in a glider. But I researched. I studied. I imagined. I worked myself to the point where I believe I “experienced” it.

Speaking of writing only in the areas of your interest, at one time in my career I was jealous in seeing how writers were able to write for firms such as Harlequin and other romance publishers and I thought, “Well, I can do that too.” No, I can’t. I attempted to read one of those books and couldn’t even get to the end of the first chapter without feeling a bit nauseous. Don’t get me wrong—I admire the folks who can spin a great romance, but if I can’t read one, how can I write it?

I’ve got more, much more, to say on the subject of my experiences in writing. So I’ll continue from here next time.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I would suggest that these ideas, as you lined them out, may have been worthwhile in the past, with the massive changes in how content is shared or distributed today, some of it is almost irrelevant.

The absolute best way to be a writer is to write. Doesn't really matter what or if you get published.

Just write.