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Posts Tagged ‘confidence’

Inspiration and Craft: Entering the Writer’s Life

March 15, 2015 2 comments

I am curious to know which novels and stories inspired authors and which helped hone their craft. It is part of what I am exploring in myself now as I continue to work on a (long-time-coming) novel of my own. Similarly, my short stories, which I have had more practice at writing, need the same reflection.

In college, I wrote a biography about George Orwell for my capstone. Not only was it immensely interesting to explore one of the authors who has had a profound influence on my own writing (thank you, 1984 and Down and Out in Paris and London, among others), but it made sense to understand his own influences. For the most part, it isn’t a story or a novel or an author that sparks the need/desire to write. At least, it doesn’t appear that way. For Orwell, his life in Burma afforded him the spark under his pants to finally get writing (something he enjoyed, but failed at before he writes Burmese Days).

Now, I don’t have a life experience that truly caused me to write. I have always wanted to write (don’t we all). I remember the desire snagging me in 1st grade when my teacher at the time would ask us to write stories based on prompts. Mine were always fantasy, granted, I was a child. My teacher then really pushed me and encouraged me to write. Ever since then, I have wanted to do it, and failed at it miserably. I like to think that part of it has to do with my influence and craft. I have the influence behind my chosen genre, but I don’t explore craft in a way that makes sense to my writing.

Hell, I have an English degree, yes. I have analyzed and broken down many a novel and story. But what has that done for my writing? In all honesty, I wasn’t paying attention to the analysis in a way to make it inform my own writing. I was paying attention to the analysis in a way to make it inform my mind. You can argue that it is one in the same. I disagree.

My reading tastes are unusual, to say the least. Russian classics, SciFi classics, modern SciFi, and a dash of Fantasy makes up my shelves for the most part. I did not read these types of novels and stories in college. These are not the stories and novels I analyzed. These are the stories that influence me daily, that excite me into considering my own plots. However, I have never looked at them as more than a platform from which to jump myself. Instead, I have missed possibly the most important offering these books have to offer me: craft. If only I had paid attention to them in a more serious, critical way before this point. I believe true craft comes from studying what makes your favorite novels great. What symbols did they use? How did they get to the denouement? Did they begin in media res?

Influence and craft is something I am going to begin exploring more in depth–what do my favorite author’s have to say about it?

I also want to know what other writers in the community think about their own experience. Does the simple act of reading inform our craft or do we need to look at what we read with a more critical lens?

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Freelancing Niche: To Write or Not to Write

February 8, 2015 Leave a comment

I am finally in the “freelancing game.” I took the leap and got a couple jobs. Verdict: Why didn’t I start this sooner?

Truly, the reason behind my lag time in starting writing projects came down to two things: confidence and the thought that I had nothing to write about. I think many writers struggle with both or at least one of these reasons. It is easy to let either reason control your decisions and I definitely let both control my desire to write for pay.

I got over my confidence issues, but I still felt I had nothing to write about when I started. Of all the projects I have started so far, none are similar to one another. This brings me to the biggest issue with freelance writing: finding your freelancing niche.

How do you figure it out?

Surprisingly, there isn’t a ton of information or thought out on the web. The first post I could find by googling it was a post from Carol Tice on Make a Living Writing. Quite honestly, I think the post provides the most practical advice about figuring out your niche.

As with anything, trying a bunch of different things appears to be the way to go (I guess I am off to a good start). The sentiment works well in any part of life (regular jobs benefit from this test and decide method).

So far, I have found that writing about the healthcare industry (an area I work within, though barely, during the day) has been interesting and entertaining. But, I also enjoy the other topics I have written about. As Tice notes, I will benefit from continuing to write in these areas before refining my “niche” and becoming an authority on the topics.

It will take time, surely, but I am off to a good start.

This brings me to a final thought: to write or not to write. I was offered a meager amount to write an ebook on a topic I enjoy and care about. However, due to the nature of the job offer (on a freelancing website), I would effectively be signing over my rights to what was written. I enjoy the topic and although I have not yet approached a market to write on the topic, I think I may want to one day. I turned down the job (and the money!), but I made the right decision in the end (hopefully).

How does a freelancer decide to turn down a job, to write or not to write? It is a conundrum that has me pondering, but a conundrum that also motivates me to keep writing.

Thoughts are welcome.