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Do I Need Writing Lessons?

Sep 16, 2008
Are writing lessons for everyone? No, but if you're asking yourself if you should take writing lessons, the answer is probably yes. Writing courses are hard work, and I won't kid you about that, but they are so rewarding.

Even assuming you have a good background in English, good sentence structure, and are talented beyond your wildest dreams, you still need the inside dope on how to sell what you write. Writing classes will teach you how to target a market, research it, write for a specific magazine, establish a rapport with editors, and have the self-confidence to properly present yourself.

Shortcuts are only for people with natural-born talent or geniuses. If you are neither of these, roll up your shirtsleeves and get ready to labor with the rest of us. Think how precious education is, and be thankful that you can get it if you try hard enough. Anything worth having is worth sacrificing for.

You may be asking, "Where do I begin?" Take a moment to do a reality check and decide what your lowest point in writing is. Do you need a punctuation review course? Do you need a brush-up course on proper sentence structure? Do you need to learn "Show, don't tell"? Establish your lowest point of writing knowledge and start there. If you are rusty on the basics, a refresher course will quickly restore your balance and set the foundation for intermediate and advanced classes.

Most writers amble along, taking the courses they like, and giving little heed to the rest of the learning process. But if you want to enjoy your hobby to the utmost, or turn it into a successful career, you must take it more seriously than that. The serious writer must wind his way through the maze of writing rules and proper procedures to develop their writing skills. This can be done easily if you have a caring mentor to lead you. He/she will help you avoid the landmines that caught them in their early years. They will critique your work, and guide you to your next level of learning.

If you're a serious writer and you want to sell, most people can begin selling articles in their first year. (Even if you want to write stories, writing articles is the place to begin. It will give you a great foundation that will enable you to earn a few bucks while you learn the story writing process, which takes a bit longer.) Almost everyone can sell articles by their second year. Learning to be a writer is a fairly speedy process, if you have the courage to stick with it. Most people who have a desire to write can learn to write well.

Note: More than half the writers who attend school drop out because they don't set good study habits. Lay aside 60-90 minutes a week for homework, and you'll do fine. Some people do this by using 15 minutes of their lunch hour daily, or staying up 15 minutes later at night. However you do it doesn't matter, but do it.

You are worth the investment. Step out and do something you really want. You can write. Almost anyone can, if they have some guidance. If you stick with it, you WILL learn.

If you would like an honest evaluation of your writing skills, send a 1,000 word story OR a 200 word article to me at deborahowen@cwinst.com. I will analyze the stories for imagery, characterization, dialog, structure, and plot. Articles will be judged on structure, strength, snappy verbs, grouping thoughts, verbiage, and presentation. I'll be more than happy to help you.
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