Sorry it’s been such a while since I last spoke to you, but life can sometimes throw you a few curve balls and you either have to avoid them or hit them. Lord knows why I’m using baseball analogies here, I know nothing about the game. What I do know about is working as a writer, getting paid for typing words on paper, and I’ll share a few of my thoughts with you today.
Writing for a living is part luck and part skill, like a game of Texas Hold’Em where you get dealt cards and it’s about how you play the cards you are dealt (or don’t play them) and where the people who win don’t just play the cards, they play the person opposite.
1. Be On Time
It’s amazing how many beginning writers think that deadlines are more of a guideline than a rule. You must meet or be earlier than your deadline always without fail and no excuses. Better to have time left over and not need it than need extra time and not have it.
2. Follow the Style
Every book, magazine, copywriting job, greeting card company etc. have a style. You need to know this style and be able to tell if something is in the style or not. Read as much of the published work of the company you are working for as possible and get a feel for the style and adapt your writing to fit. Are they jokey, formal, wacky, boring or cute? Find out and match it.
3. Follow the Brief
You get told what you are meant to write. How many words, about what subject and what kind of content is required. Do that. Don’t send too many words. Don’t talk about something which is way off topic. Don’t pimp your new book, unless that’s the subject of the piece.
4. Finish your Work
Make sure your work is finished. More editing is almost never a bad idea, as the more you refine a piece the more polished and professional it looks. All you have to do is make sure you edit enough in the time you have to get a polished result. Good enough is good enough.
5. Be your own Sub
Don’t EVER think someone is going to clean up your work for publication. There are sub editors who proof work for sense, punctuation and spelling, but this is not the first live of defence, YOU ARE. Sloppy proofing is another one of those fast ways to tick off your employers and lose your writing job. They are there to make sure you haven’t missed anything not do your work for you…
Subscribers to my newsletter got the other 5 tips on Writing for a living, as the full Top 10 is included in my Creative Genius Newsletter this month. Subscribe by following the link below and I’ll send you the other 5 tips.
Technique Tip: You say it best when you say nothing at all
I would say that with dialogue the best advice is to use it really sparingly. Most people put so MUCH dialogue in characters mouths that they can’t help sounding phoney. Sometimes people speak volumes when they say nothing. And say one thing when they mean another. Or answer a question with another question. Or change the subject and answer a question that wasn’t asked. Basically, try and cut the amount of dialogue you write but make the stuff that ends up on the page really count for something.
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Thanks and see you next time.