Sorry I’ve been away so long, but I’ve been gearing up for a new book series I have coming out. If I might be so bold as to plug it, it’s The Elsie Jones Adventures a children’s chapter book series surrounding literature and history. It’s been all consuming since last year, and honestly, it’s been one of my favorite creations.
The publisher has recently asked me to do an interview surrounding the series and my process and where I wont bother you with the details of what happened, because I know you all care, I do want to talk about one question that was asked.
What would you say is the most important thing for an aspiring writer to do?
The answer that immediately came to me was the most obvious and the answer that most authors will give.
Write every day.
This is true because the more you write the more fleshed out your writing gets, the more alive. But I didn’t want to give this answer because it’s trite, and frankly, not exactly true. The best answer is, like the best things in life, a little more elusive. Writing every day will (without taking another step) only help those who write text books. No, there’s a better answer for those who want to be a writer.
Read every day.
Yep, reading everyday is the basis of every great writer.
The most interesting and the hardest thing about becoming a writer is finding your own voice. You need to experiment and push to find your sound. Its the same (I imagine) as anything else artistic. You need to be your own unique self. But this only scratches the surface.
When you first start to read you read for story. You enjoy the characters and you’re entertained. The more and more you read, you begin to notice subtleties in character. You begin to become critical of how an author infuses individuality into their characters.
Then you move onto language.
The causal reader doesn’t care about language, but a writer does. You begin to start paying attention to what words authors use. This is directly correlated to the voice, because just like speech patterns, people all have certain phrases, or words they prefer to use.
Once you noticed the verbiage, you move on to structure. Are you a James Patterson staccato writer? Or are you a Tom Rob Smith who stretches out his sentences? Neither one of these are wrong, neither one are right, but both infuse voice.
When you first start to write you’ll copy the stylings of authors, but then as you continue to write and continue to read, the form and grace of the written word will blend in your mind and your true self will emerge. It takes time and it takes repetition, but there is nothing better than having your true voice emerge and begin to speak with a will of its own.