Lesson 2: Don’t be intimidated by successful writers. Learn from them.
One of the greatest things about writing is the sense of community that we share. Unlike most any other group out there, professional writers do not seem as threatened by the success of other writers. As a result, even those who can be considered very successful are willing to share their thoughts and experiences with others. This can be a great resource for those of us just starting out.
Through the power of the community forums and message boards, I’ve had the opportunity to correspond with my fellow Wilies, as well as successful authors like Elaine Cunningham. It is incredibly helpful to discuss fundamental aspects of the writing craft, whether it’s working on the proper tone for a story, ensuring a character is believable, or figuring out when it’s appropriate to use the word “as”.
Folks who have “been there, done that” and who are willing to share their knowledge should be treasured. Ask questions. Give feedback. Participate! Don’t allow yourself to be intimidated by their success.
At the same time, of course, don’t become a pest. Even if someone is friendly and open to answering questions, they cannot spend all of their time helping you become a better writer. Some authors run paid workshops where they can give you assistance with your writing. In those situations, feel free to pepper them with questions, because that’s what they’re getting paid for.
Outside of the classroom, however, try to remember that giving advice in an e-mail or on a message board takes time. And as we all know, time is a very valuable commodity for a writer. Just be considerate. Remember, as a writer you are part of a community. Your reputation in that community will no doubt count for something later on.
Paris Crenshaw resides with his family in San Diego, California, but spends much of his time on the Pacific Ocean, serving as a Surface Warfare Officer in the U.S. Navy. While pursuing a career as a Naval Officer, he has maintained a love of writing and creating, focusing most of his energy on the sci-fi and fantasy adventure genres. His most recent publications include stories in the first and second issues of Wayfinder magazine, a fanzine for Paizo Publication’s award-winning Pathfinder roleplaying game setting.