Tools of the Writing Trade

            Often, when someone is just beginning to consider writing as a career option, the first thing they want to know is if they need a degree. The answer to this question varies from person to person, which is infuriating to someone who has no idea where to go next. To fledgling writers, I hope this blog is helpful in some way. Experienced writers chime in and share your thoughts with me.

            Being a writer is one of the simplest and most complex career options out there. Physically speaking, the tools we need to get started are simple. They don’t have to be fancy or state of the art. We just need pen and paper or a word processing program of some sort. Some writers prefer one to the other. Personally, I like both. I like the feel of getting on a roll and my fingers flying across the keyboard, but I also like the feel and accomplishment that you can get from hand writing. Whichever works for you, roll with it. A lot of writing is about finding out what works for you.

            What comes next once you sit down with your writing tools of choice is a little more difficult. An adequate grasp of grammar and punctuation is essential. Then, you have to know what the hell you are writing about to begin with. Imagination is key, but the muse won’t always let you catch her. Sometimes you have to sit down, get to work, and let her come to you. She’s kind of like a petulant teenager in that respect, but when she does show up, it’s pure magic.

            Writers have to read. Add that to your toolbox, a need and desire to read. Even if you’re one of the busiest and most successful writers out there, I think it is essential to make the time to read. If nothing else, we all have to recharge our batteries eventually and it’s a good idea to see what other people in your field are coming up with. If inspiration is stuck on something, reading might help to get the juices flowing again.

            Most of what I know about writing, I learned by reading other writers. I have a degree in English and while it furthered my abilities as a writer, it didn’t make or break me. Its impact on my writing career will probably be marginal, truth be known.

            Writing can be fun, it can be amazing, it can be pure magic. It can also be incredibly frustrating to the point where you want to tear your hair out. The magic outweighs the madness. Is there any wonder we keep coming back to our keyboards and pens?

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4 Responses to Tools of the Writing Trade

  1. Great post Carolina 🙂 From a personal perspective I feel a degree is most certainly a great benefit and I’ve often mulled over the idea of pursuing a professional qualification in creative writing for myself. However, I think the knack of telling a great yarn isn’t something that can be learnt in a classroom. I’ve read some wonderful short stories in the past from writers who hold nothing to their name academically, yet in contrast some very ropey work from those who openly boast about holding major qualifications. I’m also a fan of reading the experiences and view points of other writers, that in itself can be an amazing and insightful education! I suppose when stripped to the bare bones writing takes passion, determination and creativity… if you’re armed with those valuable attributes anything gained beyond that is a bonus 🙂

  2. Great post. I think it all depends on the degree question. Dennis Lehane, if I remember right, didn’t have one, but many creative literary artists have an MFA. Like you say, reading and constantly writing is good. Writing all the time sure brings up the inner passion so very necessary in writing emotion. As far as turning writing into a career, that’s difficult. I think writing for the love of it is the important part. If money and glory comes, that’s a bonus.
    I enjoyed your post.

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