Visit me Saturday! See where at the end of this post.
So you have this burning desire to express yourself. In writing. That’s a good thing. You probably have done that in the past, particularly if you’re over thirty. That’s not a slight to those under three-zero, just a tip of the hat recognizing that the electronic age has lessened our need to write. Texting and voice communication are so easy and prevalent, particularly with folks who have grown up with them, many may not have much experience capturing the detail of their thoughts in written form. Geezers and Geezettes do because they had to acquire those skills to function.
What does this have to do with where you start if you decide to write? It’s simple. Practice improves what you do. If practice wasn’t required, NFL players would show up on Sunday and watch TV or read books the rest of the week. If the Patriots just showed up on Sunday and their opponents practiced all week, New England’s won-loss record would be the opposite of what it is. Ask their coach Bill Belichick, I’m sure he’ll agree. That’s even with Tom Brady calling signals. If you start writing without practice, chances are your first bit of non-fiction isn’t going to rival Bruce Catton’s, “Terrible Swift Sword,” or your novel isn’t going to threaten Nickolas Spark’s “The Note Book” on the best seller lists. Practice is necessary for the novice or established novelist. Write something every day!
Want four painless ways of getting experience? Try some of these:
- Keep a personal journal. Capture what you see and hear pictorially with words and record your feelings with raw passion. Go back a month later and read what you’ve written. Does it bring that experience alive? Understandably? Fully? If it does you’ve taken a significant step forward.
- Write short stories. The essence of writing a novel often starts with a short story. Writers like James Patterson are staunch advocates of encapsulating your ideas in 300 to 500 words. Forcing yourself to fully develop an idea in such constraints produces succinct, clear thought expression. There is a complete novel in my award-winning short story “There are no lights in Naples.” Go to my website’s home page, click on it, listen to the actress read it, and visualize how it can be expanded into a full novel or movie.
- Write summaries … with your personal feelings expressed. This can be on anything that has effected you emotionally. A novel. A magazine article. A TV sitcom. (Gag) The nightly news. Limit yourself to 1000 words. Be sure your emotions dominate the summary. Let how you feel, from love to rage, clearly indicate what caused you to write about it. Go back later, a couple weeks will do, and be sure you captured those emotions and … you feel them again!
- Volunteer at a neighborhood newspaper or local magazine. Do this after you’ve gained some experience doing the items listed above. You’ll be surprised how easy it is to volunteer (that means no pay) at these organizations. The smaller the community the more receptivity you’ll find. They’re fighting for their lives and are looking for straws, particularly free ones. The payment you’ll get is honest feedback regarding your writing. Litmus test city!
After doing some of the activities listed above, you are in a lot better position to start picking a literary area to use your talents or to pursue what you’ve already chosen. Then … going to conferences, taking classes, getting tutoring all will provide you with more dividends for your invested time and money.
This Saturday I will be doing one of my historical presentations, “The Loyal 14th Colony, Florida in the Revolutionary War.” It is going to be held in the spacious, air conditioned environs of the Sandman Book Co. located at 16480 Burnt Store Rd., in Turtle Crossing Plaza, near Punta Gorda, Florida. I’ll be speaking from 11:00 AM until noon. If you live near by (or not) stop and see me. I’d love to chat with you and you’ll be cool!
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