Monday, July 29, 2013

4 Ways to Know You're not a Beginning Writer Anymore

I’d been writing for several years, soaking up everything I can and I knew I was getting better. I wasn’t as green as I used to be. I wasn’t making those dreaded “amateur” mistakes all the professionals were talking about. But I didn’t know if this meant I wasn’t a beginner anymore (To see what makes a beginner check out 4 Ways to Know You Are a Writer). I wanted a clearly defined line or test I could take that would tell me if the progress I was making was valid. At that time I found nothing, but if you’ve ever wondered that same question, then this is for you:

1.      When you notice beginning writer mistakes and cringe.

Noticing beginning writer mistakes in yourself and in others is a sign that you have come to understand the writing world. You are “in the know.” One of us. Knowing how to fix those mistakes is a whole other level, but recognizing them is a step in the right direction and knowing to avoid them means you aren’t a novice.

2.      When you read books on writing and you’ve heard much of it before.

This is big. If you want to write you have to read books on writing. Read as many as you can because each book approaches elements of writing differently and what you might not understand from one book might make more sense in another. I had the hardest time understanding the difference between “show and tell,” but after reading what several books said about it I was able to learn to identify it and avoid the “telling.”
3.      When you have read a book by someone else and you want to kill yourself because you will never write something that wonderful.

Beginners are passionate about their writing, but they haven’t matured enough to realize they really aren’t better than Hemingway yet or perhaps even the average published writer (Ahh, the horror). A maturing writer has come to understand their strengths and more importantly has come to understand their weaknesses. You may be a great writer about to blossom, but you will not write the best book in every genre and style. There will always be a writer out there who can write something better than you, but that’s good because it pushes you to be better.

 4.      When you can introduce yourself as a writer without thinking about it.

This means you find your identity in your writing. The first few times you start introducing yourself as a writer may feel weird, like you are claiming a position you haven’t earned or are trying to convince everyone else just as hard as you want to convince yourself. But if you say you’re a writer long enough, there will come the day when you believe it and another day when you can say it without thinking about it because you know it is true.

If you have connected with any of these then congratulations! Crack out the champagne or sparkling grape juice-preferable the white. You are moving up. You’re not a beginner anymore!

This post was originally posted on Write Over the Edge, a writer's blog I contribute to. Check out this and other cool posts!

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