So, You're a Writer - Amateur or Pro?

Confessions of an Amateur Writer

This is not about finding an agent, getting a publisher and making a living off your writing. It is about your approach to writing. Be honest with yourself. Are you an amateur with an interesting hobby, or someone who is disciplined and always learning about their craft. Here's an arrow in the leg for me: can I keep a deadline? (No.)

I have just admitted to myself that I am an amateur writer.

That doesn't mean I'm a bad writer. I have a publisher and contracts and everything. I've got two books in print. I have never seen a review with less than five stars on the Amazon. My books say something and I'm proud of them.

And yet.

Unless You're Writing for Television, You Probably Need to Plan Ahead

By etymology, an "amateur" is one who does something for the love of it. There is nothing wrong with that. Maybe you are even one of those muse-kissed souls from whose subconscious flows intricately plotted novels with the effortlessness of dreams. This piece isn't for you.

This painful admission moves me to step back and examine the way I work. "Inefficient" is the kindest word I can come up with. Since I love to write, I want to jump right in and do what I love.

That's how Judging Angels got written - eventually, all 160,000 words.. It is also how the sequel has not gotten written. Oh, I've slung probably 160,000 words at the thing and good writing at that. But it never became a novel.

Maybe I should be writing for television. Until, then, though, something must change.

Writing Like I Practiced Law - Why Not?

When I was a lawyer, I enjoyed writing bench briefs, and was good at it. However, I could not sit down in the morning and just write a brief. First, I had to master the relevant facts, research the law and formulate compelling arguments. Similarly, when I prepared closing arguments for trial, I would always start at the end. That way, I knew what I had to say for my jurors to carry my best case into the fight.

I didn't make things up as I went along.

So, I have put my story away and am making notes on characters and their roles, their motivations and the way they interact with other characters to develop themes and move the story along. Mostly I am deciding what the Hell the middle and the end are. (Like many would-be writers, I'm really good at beginnings, though.)

I'm plotting. Not rubbing-your-hands-together-evil-laughter plotting (well, sometimes) but working out my main plot and subplots and how to best weave them together.

Is it fun? Sometimes, but mostly it's tedious work. Discipline is not one of my strong points. I have become a cliché of the worst sort of "creative type." But I am laying the foundation of the novel I cannot write otherwise. At least the last couple of days. It's hard to break bad writing habits.

If you are an amateur, there's nothing wrong with that, but that is what you will probably remain unless you

STOP

And think about what you're doing.

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