The age of the Internet has done something to writing that hasn’t been the case ever before in history. In the past writers were extremely limited in their ability to reach an audience. If I had to use clay or stone tablets to reach my audiences then I would need to spend most of my time learning the art of making these tablets and only a fraction of my time on actual writing. Even with paper and the printing press it was still difficult to spread ideas. There have always been gatekeepers preventing writers from sharing their creativity and they’ve mostly been economic: the availability of clay was the gate keeper for the author of clay tables, the availability of parchment the gate keeper for the dark age author, and so on. When the printing press came along it was the publishing company that was the gate keeper. Do you want your writing published? Then it needs to find a publisher who will approve it for you first. With the internet though, this has all changed. For less than a day’s salary you can buy a domain name and publish your own work and it can potentially reach everyone who can read.
However, how am I to earn a living being an author? Patreon is exciting to me because in the past artists needed to either have plenty of money themselves or they needed to have a wealthy patron to fund their creativity. The idea that hundreds of people could each chip in a few dollars for me each month and that I might be able to actually make something of a living from my hobby is quite exciting. Of course, I haven’t actually made any money from this yet and probably won’t for a long time. However, nothing ventured, nothing gained as the saying goes. I enjoy writing and it is meaningful for me to share my work. Now that I have this site, and I’ve decided how I will run it, all I need focus on now is producing good quality writing. Writing that people will actually want to read. Writing that people will think, “it was worth my money supporting that guy!” So what can I do to be in control of this? How can I make this site a success now that I am a market facing writer, not a publisher facing writer, because the only gatekeeper left is the reader. Well, I have a few goals at the moment for improving my writing:
My Writing Goals
There are many more ways that I want to improve my writing, these are just three that I am actively working on at the moment.
There are many aspects of writing that I am not good at. I can live with my terrible spelling… most days. However, I find when reading other people’s work I am impressed most by writers who produce these flawed characters who have strange complex histories. They have personality quirks that are realistic and intriguing. Most authors, myself included, tend to have flat characters who just seem to pop into existence without prior traumas or major life events that have left an indelible impression on them. This painting of a character with such depth is a skill I would like to develop this year. I am still trying to work out if character develop mostly occurs during the first draft, or when passing over the whole work again in the second draft. If you have an insights on this I could love to read your comments.
I abhor reading books and stories with too much description. I think there is nothing more dull than descriptive writing en masse. I try to keep my writing as clean as possible so that I can focus on the action and the dialogue. However, there is still a place for descriptive writing in my work. I like short punchy descriptive phrases. Just a line, maybe two, that perfectly captures something descriptively. But for the most part I prefer it if my audience create their own scenery in their heads so that their brains are fully stimulated by the reading. The occasional descriptive passages are there to inspire the reader’s creative processes, not to tell the reader what to see. I actually like writing 140 character long sentences just to practice laconic descriptive writing.
When it comes to plots, I admire writers who produce plots full of random detail that suddenly come seamlessly together. J.K. Rowling is good example of this. Most of her books feature a whole series of what appear to be minor events that turn out to be intricately interconnected. When I find these things in books it gives me as a reader this “wow” factor that is very satisfying. I have no idea how my plots come across to my readers, but I suspect they’re still too simple and not as clever as I would like them to be. I’m looking forward to having more feedback on my work so I can get an idea of what my readers see in my work.