Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Learning on the job

When I started writing I'd had no formal training other than what one receives in school but looking back over my life it was something which I'd always had a leaning towards. Periodically, over the years, I have actually written stuff and I now see that as a subconscious preparation for the writing I am doing now. So I have some friendly advice for those who think they might like to write and those who describe themselves as 'aspiring' authors.

Firstly, if you feel the need to write just do it. For years I prevaricated, procrastinated or whatever - I was always too busy! Even so I managed bits. I know that somewhere in the detritus that I have accumulated over the years there is a small black book containing poetry written in the 1970s. I wish I could find it!

Secondly, write a diary. There may be a number of Samuel Pepys out there and their writing is essential for posterity. I began writing a daily log as a result of reading somewhere that it was a good place to begin if you wanted to write. Your writing muscle needs exercise. I began writing a diary around 17 years ago on March 20th 1995, and as a teacher I actually used some school exercise books but since then have graduated to the 'Page a day' type. What do you include - anything but the prices of things that you have bought, places visited and how you felt about various events in your life.

A quote from the first page I wrote:-

'Everyone coming into the staffroom this morning seemed to have had a weekend which gave them something to moan about. - Not so I'

It really doesn't matter what you write as long as you are flexing that muscle. I wouldn't worry too much about the quality of each sentence initially as you can polish later.

Finally, try and have someone else read your stuff, not to comment on quality, that's your pigeon, but to check for errors. Even though I published 'I Have To Get It Right' was published last August I have uploaded a new edition in the last 24 hours with a better format and hopefully the last errors ironed out. It is substantially the same story but the presentation is better. This is a job where the saying 'practice makes perfect' is so true.