How do you grow as a writer? Work hard on the basics by collaborating with others.

In today’s installment of “Amanda isn’t an island” or “Amanda can’t create an award-winning epic in a vacuum,” I’m focusing on identifying weaknesses (some of us have more than others), creating a professional product (something to be proud of), and learning to collaborate with others to help a whole team move forward.

Working with other writers, especially those from a different background than yourself, is so vital to maturing as a writer. We must create a trusting team who will tell us the ugly truth and kick us in the hind-parts when we really need it.

Here are just a few of the wonderful people who have accepted me as part of their tribe.

The best path to mature writing is joining and becoming actively involved with other writers. This may mean joining local writing groups or online writing groups. Take the time to appreciate their work and they will appreciate yours.

These ladies are sharing their experience with the world. They’re on this journey too, so give them a shout! They will appreciate it.

Elise Anton

Elise Anton - From Melbourne Australia

Elise Anton hails from Melbourne, Australia. She is a writer, blogger, mother, and all-around great person.

If you wish to learn about writing your personal story, Elise has got you covered. Elise’s writing style is interesting, personal, and emotional, but she does not pull any punches or treats her readers as children. She writes incredibly well and does not shy away from complicated formed sentences and bigger words. She writes to a mature audience and it works.

Elise knows her audience and treats them as mature adults. Through this, she has gained a huge following. One of her stories has over 1000 readers.

Inspirational writing is incredibly important to the writer and to others. We all struggle with challenges but Elise really is good at breaking it all together.

Her incredible stories, including her deep and raw memoir, can be found on Wattpad at

https://www.wattpad.com/user/eliseanton

Crystal MM Burton

Crystal MM Burton -

I’d like to present the ever-so-wonderful, Crystal MM Burton. She wears so many hats and handles all the work very well. I adore how she describes herself. She says she is an author, editor, mother, wife, and nerd. Her website offers short stories, poems, and articles. On her blog, you can find a listing of her editing services and a little about all of her books.

http://crystalmmburton.com
www.facebook.com/crystalmmburton

Writing about personal challenges is a great way to become authentic.

Crystal MM Burton has done that.

Her Wattpad page contains her detailed  bipolar memoirs. Take time to read her struggles and see how important inspirational writing can be.

http://www.wattpad.com/user/crystalmmburton

Angela J. Ford

Angela Ford - Nashville TN 2

Angela Ford is a writer and a business owner. When learning to write in your own voice, it’s important to read many different styles of writing. Angela has two distinct voices. In her The Four Worlds series, she is free to capture the characters in a fantasy world.

Angela then has the wonderful ability to change styles and take on the voice of a business woman. In this voice, Angela’s style is organized, clear, and inspiring. She has the style of someone who might one day write famous speeches for Presidents and world leaders. The type of moving, emotional, but organized speeches we remember long after they are spoken.

Take a look at her work and read the two distinct styles she brings to the table.

www.angelajford.com/blog

www.thefourworldsseries.com

Charlotte Munro

Charlotte Munro - From Eastbourne, East Sussex

If you’re looking for the horror or tragedy side of writing, Charlotte Munro is your lady.

Charlotte comes to us from Eastbourne, East Sussex. She’s written a number of teen type horror books and she has a fantastic sampling of her work located on her website.

Charlotte’s Amazon profile states, “I still love Horror elements, but am a sucker for love stories, of course not the run-of-the-mill. I enjoy tragedies, it’s a twisted thing, but I adore reading forbidden love and doomed relationships. With paranormal elements thrown in-between. I live for Fantasy, for the magical element of the unreal. I am an avid tea drinker, one with nature kind of girl.”

Charlotte is the author of; Requiem City: The Butcher, Grey October, The Lockharts

Don’t be shy. We’re here to help others start their writing journeys. Pop on over and let her know how awesome she is!

Facebook – https://m.facebook.com/charlottemunroauthor/
Website/Blog – http://charlottemunrox.wixsite.com/charlottemunro
Amazon – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Charlotte-Munro/e/B0034PR8BC

 

How do you grow as a writer? Work hard on the basics by collaborating with others.

For anyone who becomes a writer, especially later in life, there will always be bumps along the way. There’ll be false starts, caution flags, and you’ll probably be slammed into the wall a few times. You may find yourself hiding in the pits, begging yourself to give up. Don’t give up. Following your dreams might be harder than you thought but if you give this new path a solid chance, you’ll find yourself in the poll position in no time.

When starting something new, we should always tackle a new skill with a childlike view of learning. We can’t just jump in the driver’s seat; we have to become passengers for a little while. We must identify our weaknesses and work hard to correct them; we need to embrace our strengths and make these our cornerstones for a strong foundation, and we need to identify bad habits, break them, and instill good ones.

Since we are intelligent, experienced, mature adults, we sometimes assume we should be able to jump right into a new field with very few speed bumps. This is especially true when the new field may seem like something we’ve known how to do our whole adult lives. But every change requires a learning curve. Even switching jobs in the same career field will require a learning curve pertaining to new computers, programs, and even learning where the break room and the bathroom are located. Breaking down skills into basic parts, and starting from scratch, can make or break a new path in life.

Jumping into a new career seems so simple at first.

We’ve walked since we were only 12 months old, so, of course, power walking should be a breeze. We’ve tied our shoes since we were five, so tying ropes on a sailboat or tying ice skates correctly should come easy for us. As we know, these examples are not necessarily true. One mastered skill set does not always transfer to a similar skill set. To master a new skill; first, you have to become the student.

This same thought process applies to writing. Without putting in extra effort identifying their weaknesses of this new skill set, many writers are frustrated and disappointed when their first books do not sell as well as they expected. They begin to believe they are failures and use this first failure as a reason to quit. The truth is, they didn’t fail as writers, they failed as students.

Accepting the role of a student is hard, but becoming a student is the only way to learn how to become the master (I sounded really deep there). It sounds like a corny after-school special (or The Karate Kid franchise) but if we learned nothing else from those movies, Mr. Miyagi was bad-ass and he was always right (I’m sure he didn’t learn to catch the fly with the chopsticks his first time out).

Think about this; anyone can write a book or create a work of art. That’s not even a question. If an elephant or a monkey can paint, I’m pretty sure anyone reading this can paint too. The real hurdle is pushing through the tentative brush strokes of an amateur into the professional confidence of a master. One level is a fun hobby, and the other is a professional career.

These are the same rules which apply to writing. I like writing this blog, but this is my tentative brush strokes before the work of art. This is where I learn, grow, and hopefully, conquer bad habits and pick up some good ones. This is my practice track, preparing for the long tracks.

If writers take shortcuts and do not build their careers on a firm foundation, these shortcuts will soon be apparent to the public. Without knowing the basics of a new skill, a career is stalled right where the hard work ended; as a hobby (which isn’t a bad thing, if that is the goal). Without the hard work, new writers will have a hard time being accepted as a true professional.

As older adults, we face another obstacle; over many years of adapting to our way of doing things, we’ve developed many bad habits. Not only does this hinder growth straight out of the gate, but these early mistakes are taken into future works and will hinder an entire career. If we don’t admit these bad habits to ourselves, seek out guidance to correct them, and work hard to mitigate those bad habits into good ones, we will be left with residue “tells” in future works, which will haunt us and stop our careers from growing. Our skills might become mature enough to make a small living, but not mature enough to be taken seriously by experts.

In the beginning, relearning and mastering necessary skills may seem like a huge waste of valuable time, but in reality, this extra effort will save time down the line and make your writing shine brighter than before. From this firm foundation, your career will naturally grow from the hobby level into a professional career you can be proud of.

One of the best examples I can give to demonstrate jumping in feet first, without going back to basics, is Jeff Gordon. If you are unfamiliar with him, Jeff Gordon is a famous race car driver. He started racing BMX bikes at four years old and continued to race for the rest of his career. In the early 90s, at 16 years old, he was finally old enough to race cars. Due to fear of his immaturity, many owners did not want him, and other drivers did not believe in him.

Jeff Gordon had one issue to overcome, his own bad habits. There was no doubt in anyone’s mind that he was an incredibly talented driver. He was a fantastic miniature race car driver, and he was already famous in his own right, but making a leap from one job to another, still requires attention to the learning curve. During this huge transition, he thought this job was going to be as easy as his last career. What he didn’t realize, he may have mastered the skills to win in all the races before he was sixteen, but performing with mature men and women took a brand new set of skills.

Where he was still young and looking for the quick win, the mature drivers were playing the long game and preparing for long careers. The drivers helped each other on the racetrack, even helping their competitors. Jeff wasn’t used to working with a mature team and working towards the long game. He certainly wasn’t used to helping out a competitor in small ways as a method to win individually in big ways.

His immaturity got the best of him. He wouldn’t listen to more experienced drivers; he was reckless, a loose cannon, and even though he did win more times than not, his winning was unpredictable. He crashed his race cars, which lost money not only for him but also for his team. He was only thinking about himself and not about the sponsors an entire team could bring to a racetrack. He was fined for pushing boundaries with rules, he partied too hard, and he became a real pain the butt to those around him. Because he thought he knew it all, the transition without preparation threatened to ruin his entire career.

Eventually, he finally got the message. The people around him finally convinced him to listen and learn the basics of this normal. He had to slow down, step back, relearn necessary core competencies, break bad habits, and when his new skills were mastered, he could finally go forward to become the race car driver we know today. Had he not stopped his destructive behavior, he would be lost to the history books, just another footnote in racing. Talent alone did not save him. It was his commitment to learning new tasks and mastering new skills.

*****

As an update, I’ve been recently informed that Jeff Gordan has come out of retirement to help out his old team while Dale Earnhaert Jr. is recovering from a serious injury. Not only is he no driving his old car, but he will be racing against his old number, and doesn’t even expect to win all that often. His main focus is helping his team, who stood by him during his early years. If he had remained the same reckless, stubborn, driver of his early years, he would have never come this far, and now he is selfishly giving up  his retirement time and dedicating himself to his teammates. Instead of everyone shunning him in the early 90s, now he has come back as the hero. That, in writing, is what we call serious character development.

Take Jeff Gordan’s lessons to heart, going back to the basics, relearning basic skills, and asking for help, really pays off in the end.

*****

It doesn’t matter what age someone decides to write, if they don’t take the time to hone the necessary skills and focus in on the problem areas, talent will only take them so far. Without hard work and commitment to learning, the ones who take the shortcuts will fall by the wayside. The people who have talent and put in the hard work will be the ones who live the dream and win the awards.

There is some good news to all of this. The learning curve won’t be the same for everyone, and no one has to do it alone. Many writers are already poised to enter the big race. They already have the foundations of writing and only need to focus their energy in small ways. While others, like myself, needed this first year to gain the higher level writing skills and confidence some writers already possess.

As we become more experienced and mature, we understand the importance in helping those coming up behind us. There are many groups and experienced writers who not only have learned all the mistakes but look forward to helping others avoid the same pitfalls. Don’t abuse their kindness, but don’t be afraid to ask questions and see how they survived the long nights and hard work. You’re not alone.

Collaborating with published authors, professional editors, bloggers, and even other new writers are the first step to creating a better product for your readers and establishing yourself as a respected author.

Until next time…be safe, be kind, and always be happy.

(Just keep writing)

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