1. Russell
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    Russell New Member

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    Writing and the journey of learning

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Russell, Jun 30, 2009.

    Hi Folks,

    I've just embarked on my journey to discover my literary side, and am looking for some thoughts on where I should go from here.

    First a little background. I'm a 43 year old male from Queensland, Australia. I have an IT Degree and currently work as a project manager. My family have recent had a tree change from the big city to a rural setting, and I'm trying to get more joy and less stress out of life, as after years of making money and being miserable, we've come to realise it's the quality of life that's important, not the quantity.

    I've wanted to write a Novel ever since high school, but never considered myself to have the potential. Not from lack of ideas (my dreams alone could fill a thousand short stories - if I could remember them all that is) or skill (I'm not an English genius, but my grades at school and university were above avergae), but probably more from being able to dedicate the time & effort to complete the job.

    So, now that I'm looking for a more fulfilling life, I'm determined I'm going to make time to discover if I do have a spark of literary genius inside me. That's where I'm at now. I've decided I'm going to give it a shot, and am wondering where I should go next.

    First of all, I see three streams to follow to enlighten myself :-

    1. Take the Nike approach (i.e. just do it, write and see what happens)
    2. Self Education - Buy some books on creative writing/internet research and see how I go
    3. Formal Education - undertake some form of study

    The pro's & con's I see for each option are :-

    1.
    Pro: Cheap, immediate, mandatory
    Con: Hard to improve

    2.
    Pro: Relative cheap, expands my understanding of the craft
    Con: Time consuming finding good information, takes away from #1, trouble knowing what is good and what is bad information

    3.
    Pro: Formal training from supposed experts
    Con: Expensive, knowing what the best level of training is, is difficult, can be time consuming

    So I'm wondering what everyone thinks might be a good approach to take.

    I know #1 should be done regardless, but the volume will be affected by #'s 2 & 3. I think I could do with some expansion of my volcabulary and sentence construction, which goes back to the basics of how to write well and expressively. I think I could pick up the knowledge of novel writing (i.e. plot, character development etc) via self education, but I miss the feedback corrections that a formal instructor provides. I know there are Critique groups out there, but for someone who hasn't done any creative writing at all, is this good enough to help me improve my writing from whatever level it is currently at (I'm hoping at least mediocre, and not starting at bad) to being able to produce good, readable, enthralling stories?

    I guess my focus is on writing Fantasy stories, but I'd like to explore a wide range of aspects of Fiction. I'm also interested in Mystery, Sci-Fi, and anything that challenges the readers thoughs. I'd love to write some "Twilight Zone" type stories, as the ability they have to provide entertaining stories with insightful and surprising endings has always intrigued me.

    I hope this brief introduction gives you an idea where I'm at and what I'm trying to do. Any advice on how to turn a newbie wannabe writer into an entertaining and educated author would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks. Russell.
     
  2. arron89
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    arron89 Banned

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    Well, you've come to the right place...there are plenty of people here to help you on your way with regards to getting into writing...
    Option #1 is obviously a good idea...you can't improve until you've made a start....and the review rooms here are a good place to post your early work and get some feedback from your peers (as well as for you to look at other writers and see how things work, get ideas, etc etc).
    I wouldn't recommend books on how to write...instead, just focussing on reading works by great authors analytically, seeing how they construct sentences, what language they use, how they create characters, things like that.

    So yeah, basically just haunt the forums, read over the arguments and things, and head to the review room and start reviewing, and when you're ready, post your own stuff and we'll get you headed in the right direction :D
     
  3. tbeverley
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    tbeverley Senior Member

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    It looks as if you already have a good command of the english language, so you're already beyond the basics.

    Reading is a must.

    Writing is obviously a must.

    Studying books on writing is always beneficial, if not just plain fun, and you can pick and choose which information you think is good; also, it keeps your mind focused on writing on those days when you can't write - speaking from personal experience, there are some days when I just can't write anything good.

    Posting your writing on forums like this provides the greatest help you could ever find. Other readers can always see what you have missed.

    College would be nice. I haven't gone, but sometimes I think it would be fun. Although, you can likely get the same education in forums as you would from other writers at a school. The one person I know who got an MFA in creative writing tends to disregard his entire education, but still has to pay back the studen loans.

    If I could give only one bit of advice, it would be to use forums like this. In all the time I've been a writer, I have got the best experience on how to write by posting my writing and listening to the critiques that have been offered.
     
  4. Russell
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    Russell New Member

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    Thanks for the replies. I've started browsing around the forums. I saw the Short Story comp and thought I might give it a go, then I see the current topic is Comedy - urgh, is there anything harder to start with? :)

    I've actually been writing Poetry for special occassions for my wife for years, although it's rather traditional poetry, nothing too in-depth. Might have a go at the Poetry comp as well though, and see what people think.

    Russell.
     
  5. Cheeno
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    Cheeno Contributing Member

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    I would say, Read. That's about it. Read the best, and the worst, then put it into practice. I wouldn't say 'don't' use 'how to' manuals. You may find some useful tips about technique and methodology, but I'd put more emphisis on reading and writing. In respect of forums, from my experience, developing your critiquing skills will prove beneficial to enhancing your writing skills. Good luck on your journey.
     
  6. Elistara
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    Elistara Member

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    Just start writing. Once you start, you will find out how addictive and fun it can be to simply twist your own tale.
    I think you have way overthunk it. :)
    Relax, have a little faith in yourself, you will pick it up as you go along. Forums are good for opinions, and help with your work, and read through others work, and also the reviews that have been given to them. You will learn a lot from those. And from reviewing others work. Looking at lots of reviews will help you learn what works, and what may not.

    Don't be too quick to share your work though - I shared before I understood what I was doing just to try to share in the excitement I felt. Then I learnt that I hadn't put down on paper what I thought I had put down, and so what I was feeling when I read it was not coming across to the reader. Just a matter of being too close - you can view it with new eyes though in a matter of a week or so, after the dust settles, just to find out what it was you were trying to say, and be able to compare that to what you actually said.
    Because your journey as a writer, through your story, is to help others along it, and have them feel it with you.

    But most importantly, have fun with it!
     
  7. Russell
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    Russell New Member

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    Hehe, am I that transparent? I have a character flaw in that I want everything I do to be technically perfect, and I can end up spending so much time trying to achieve perfection, that I fail to actually complete anything. I keep trying to bash that out of myself, but it's not easy.

    Russell.
     
  8. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    The best thing you can do is relax and enjoy the process. Places like this are the best way to learn.
     

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