Friday, 8 October 2010

On Writing

So how is the writing going? I was asked this recently by a close family friend who'd heard that writing is a solitary art that can affect relationships. He was right of course, it can indeed be a threat to relationships but if you're aware of this you can combat it quite effectively. Some time back this exact issue was covered by one of our universities tutors, who told us that you need to find a specific time each day to write and stick to it. By doing this family and friends know when you're working and that they need to plan things around these times, as does the writer himself. I've also found that this somehow helps with the flow of the writing, exactly why though I don't know. It's just that I write better, concentrate longer and think clearer during these specific times. I still have those notebooks with me constantly, scribbling away when things occur to me. I just don't develop the ideas at that exact moment in time (although I may muse over them occasionally). This is a huge change from when I used to spend most of the day latched onto my laptop, frowning and hammering away at the keyboard. Instead 3 or 4 hours a day works wonders.

I've always been lucky with non-fiction, finding that editors sometimes like the ideas that tend to leap into my mind. But is it luck or is it the approach? You see I strongly adhere to another piece of advice that I was given many years ago and that was always to check first with your target market before you actually putting anything down on paper. Has another such piece been published recently (in your target or a rival magazine) or would the editor actually interested in publishing this? They can only say yes or no and if it's the latter then simply drop the subject and move on. You haven't wasted anytime writing something that isn't going to be published and can concentrate on something that is, thus building up your hit rate.

I did discover a new hiccup recently. Having come up with an idea to base an article on the financial climates effect on professional martial arts instructors and their schools I ran it past an editor who really liked the idea and suggested someone to interview with regards to this. But after many phone calls and emails the subject declined the interview, saying he believed that it was the wrong time to publish such an article. I still strongly disagree with this and feel that a school owner would appreciate some advice on this subject right now, such as what other markets to look at or classes to run, rather than read this some months down the road when his school might have had to close. However, Editors really know the business and if they agree with the interviewee you really need to sit up and take notice, then think up something else.

It's fiction that I really love but struggle with. It's not the ideas themselves but getting them accepted and published. But we aren't alone. Look at Stephen King who took his first novel Carrie to 17 publishers before it was accepted, or J K Rowling who took Harry Potter to 57 publishers before it was accepted by Bloomsbury with a limited run and she was firmly on the path to becoming the world's first billionaire writer.

So with these odds stacked against us why do we write? Is it love of the written word or the hope of financial success, or maybe the urge to be recognised or maybe even escapism from the mad world around us? For many of us I believe it's the latter. What better escape than to simply lock one's doors on the outside world and lose ourselves in exploring alien landscapes or in the adventures of knights and dragons, perhaps romantic relationships or even childish pranks. The world of the writer may indeed be a lonely one but I personally can think of nothing better than to think up new plots and characters and hope that one day someone else will enjoy our efforts.

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