Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Writing Advice

I follow an author on FB who regularly answers reader questions in her posts.  She answered one recently that went something like 'I want to be a writer. Do I need a degree in English?'  She, of course, answered with a resounding 'NO'.  And then went on to write some pretty salient and interesting things along those lines.  But since I don't have permission to post any of that here, I thought I'd address the idea myself.

First off, I don't have a degree in English.  Or anything else for that matter.  I'm degree-free.  I did go to college for 4 years and majored in Speech/Communications with a minor in Psychology.  But I quit with one year to go.  (For reasons that aren't pertinent to anything here.)

Did those 4 years of college help me with my writing?  Well, yes and no.  The two English college courses I took both helped and didn't help.  The first one was basically a 'pat on the head for stringing words together in a cogent fashion' course.  The second one kicked my ass.  (Which is why I dedicated my first book to the second professor 'in memoriam' because he'd gone before I could show him what I'd accomplished.)  Otherwise, it was more about the experience of being in college and all the combined knowledge I'd soaked up while I was there that helped me in my writing.  Sure, the psych courses help me delve into the human mind and get hands dirty.  But I could've learned all that on my own online without paying for the classes.  Know what I mean?

Everything I've done and all the knowledge I've acquired has helped me more than any class I paid for.  Every person I've met.  Every place I've been.  Every experience I've had.  They've all helped me to write novels*.

So, basically, what I'd advise any person thinking about writing to do is acquire experiences and knowledge - from everywhere.  The more you know about existence, the better off you'll be.

Oh, and please do have some English (or whatever language you write in) education under your belt.  You need to understand language in order to make yourself clear to your readers.  And you have to know the rules before you can break them.  ;o)  After that, get an Awesome Wonderful Editor who has an excellent understanding of your language, so she can kick your ass and make you write better.

Now, go and experience things. Shoo shoo.

*Writing non-fiction is a different animal.  Obviously.  Since I don't write NF, can't help you there.


  1. I would add one caveat to your advice: READ!!!!!! Read favorite authors whose words make you swoon. Read unfamiliar authors to how others do it. Read bad authors to learn what not to do. And don't necessarily read best-selling authors and emulate them because it's not always about their talent/abilities but the massive marketing machine of their publishing houses.

    And yes, by all the writing gods, PLEASE learn to spell, punctuate, and write complete sentences.

    *climbs off soap box*

  2. Doing stuff is the MOST important thing. Get experiences. And read, a lot!

    I got a degree in English. The only more useless degree might have been philosophy. I wish I'd taken a bunch of psychology and science classes, but I didn't feel smart enough.

    But I know all (well, most of) the rules of English, and I'm happy to break them as needed. :-)