Today I get to feature a post by author Christopher Kokoski. Christophers book Dark Halo sounds fantastic one to add to the list for sure. He stops by to share things he wishes he had been told when starting out.
Four Things I Wish Someone Would Have Told Me About Writing I started writing when I was thirteen. Since then, I’ve picked up a few things that I’d wish I’d known when I first started. Today I want to share four of those lessons with you.
- Writing is a skill that can be mastered
Not a life-changing statement, I know. However, there seems to be a myth floating around that great writers are born with a silver pen in hand, spewing forth brilliant lines with ease. While I agree that some people seem to have an innate sense of the craft, the greatest writers in history have mastered the art of writing by focused determination and hard work. Like any skill, writers must pass through a predicable apprentice stage before reaching a level of proficiency. Don’t buy into the “talent myth”. History is full of talented people who never made it because they weren’t willing to put in the time and effort required to master their craft. Don’t be one of them.
- Most of what you write at first will be bad
A person learning carpentry would never expect to whittle out a perfect chair on their first try, let another their twentieth. Similarly, writing is a craft that must be mastered with time, dedication and a willingness to keep at it, day by day, grinding words into sentences, even when quitting beckons at the end of every paragraph. There is no way to bypass this necessary “learning” period. Keep writing, revising, studying, seeking feedback and repeating those steps. Don’t give up. Don’t give in to disappointment or despair. This is just part of the process. Every bestselling author started as a young girl or guy who could barely put two sentences together. They, like you, must practice, practice, practice. When I started out, I thought I had to be good right away. I felt terribly pathetic when I read stories I spent hours, days and weeks writing. “I’ll never be good,” I remember thinking. “My writing sucks!” And it did suck. It was really, really bad. Until, after years and years of practice, it suddenly wasn’t.
- The good stuff comes later
After you’ve spent years honing your writing, you’ll notice yourself getting better. It might be glaringly obvious or it might be subtle and nearly unrecognizable. However it happens, it will happen. Remind yourself of this fact during those dark, lonely years where it can be a struggle to figure out how to integrate all those elements of storytelling (i.e. conflict, dialogue, plot, character, description, setting, etc) while you write. You will get better, even if you can’t see a light at the end of the literary tunnel. If you put in the time and effort, you will grow as a writer. Period. When it happens, you will sit back and be amazed because it will seem so natural and, at times, even easy. Easy? Yes, in the same way that a professional athlete, having invested thousands of hours of practice, performs a lay up or field goal with seeming ease. The good stuff comes later, but it does come.
- Reading great writing helps you write.
One of the most spouted lessons about how to improve as a writer is to “read a lot and write a lot.” When I first heard it, I thought it couldn’t be true. It sounded too simple to be of any real help. Only because I heard it so often, I followed the advice anyway. I read voraciously, and I wrote six days of the week with Sundays off for spiritual reasons. I especially read bestsellers, writing that had already made the leap I wanted to make. I read, absorbed, studied and translated what I learned into my own writing. The lesson may be simple, but it works. Read a lot and write a lot.
There you have it. Four things about writing I wish I had known when I first started. I hope they help you as they have helped me. Sincerely, Christopher
About the Author
Christopher was born in Kansas, the son of an Army Ranger and Black Hawk pilot. He grew up in Kentucky and Germany, and graduated from Murray State University in 2002 with a degree in Organizational Communication. He spent the next three years laboring over his first book, Past Lives, while getting married to his college sweetheart, having a beautiful daughter, and more or less finding his stride in life. He currently lives in Southern Indiana and works in Louisville, Kentucky as a national trainer. He has presented at local and national conferences on a wide spectrum of topics including communication, body language, cultural sensitivity and influence. Other notable activities include writing articles, short stories, novels and training materials for national and international audiences. Christopher continues his passion and dedication to writing by working on additional novels, including a sequel to the Past Lives series. His most recent book is the standalone paranormal thriller, Dark Halo.