Friday, August 21, 2015

You Don't Need Mega Brains to Write a Novel

Back in high school, I was called down to the guidance counselor's office to discuss what my plans were for when I got out of school. I said, "I'm going to be a writer." Well, Mrs. Miller, the guidance counselor, burst out laughing. "You'll never be a writer," she told me. "How about a secretarial position?" I should have told her to go fuck herself, but I didn't need any more detentions or in-school suspensions.

A few years later, I got my first "real" check for writing. It was from The New York Times. I made a photocopy of it and, to this day, I have it in my file box to remind me of Mrs. Miller and what that creature said to me.

Don't Listen to What Other People Say

The first rule to becoming a writer is to dismiss what everyone has told you and will tell you. Forget about your English teachers - they haven't got a clue. You don't need to be super smart to be a writer. Average intelligence works just fine for us.

What you do need is the ability to feel a wide range of emotions and articulate those emotions so that others can feel them, too. If you are an emotional basket case, you will probably be a great novel writer.

Spell This

Back in the late 1990s, I was in contact with one of my favorite writers. She wanted to know how I had built up my site's popularity. As we exchanged more and more emails, I saw that she couldn't spell or type for the life of her. I loved her books and her wonderful creativity, but I was thankful that she also had an exceptional editor.

You don't have to be great at spelling or even great with your tenses. You do need, however, a really good editor. Most publishing houses will edit your work before they publish it, but, as a self publisher, you will need to hire a good editor.

We Don't Need No Education

You don't need a formal education to be a writer. I am a high school drop out (that guidance counselor I mention above sealed the deal for me) and I am in excellent company. Augusten Burroughs, Seth Rogen, Mark Twain (dropped out at age 12), H.G. Wells, Charles Dickens, Jack London, William Faulkner, and George Bernard Shaw (dropped out at age 14) are all high school drop outs.

Ray Bradbury, author of over 500 literary works, did not support colleges. He supported libraries, instead, because anyone can use a library to study and learn. That is what he did and that is what anyone can do - self learning.

If You Have a Dream

If you dream of being a published writer, follow that dream. If some poopy head comes along and says you will never make it, prove him wrong by keeping at it. When it comes to writing, there is no "perfect" writer. It doesn't matter if you can spell big words without a dictionary and no one cares if you are a genius at calculus. All that matters is your ability to transport the reader from her drab life into a new world surrounded by disasters and opportunities. Make the reader feel, and then you will have become a successful writer.

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