Sunday, February 19, 2023

Getting a Leg Up in the Writing Field

Does a background in any other kind of business give you a head start as a professional writer? If you were designing a course of study for a budding writer, what would the modules be?

Benda here.

I think that any and all life experience helps a professional writer. Using my own working life as an example, I started out as a teacher, which helps in designing and giving presentations. Teaching gave me invaluable practice for standing in front of a group of people and delivering a talk. I also taught grammar, the building block of good writing.

My second career was in Communications. My first position was editor, and I moved on to Communications advisor, which involved writing news releases, media lines, communications plans, all great skills for marketing books. Writing under deadline, not to mention daily reading, absorbing and synthesizing quantities of material that had to be condensed into easily understandable paragraphs -- all proved good training for being an author.

In addition to these two careers, a college or university education benefits professional writers, including studying in the fields of business, English literature, journalism, film studies, criminology, and creative writing. Also invaluable is any field, such as history or political studies, that broadens someone's knowledge ... the list goes on. Many professional authors in the crime-writing field worked as journalists or in policing or forensics. 

In designing modules for budding writer courses, I'd include sessions on contracts and writing as a business, marketing, public speaking, preparing and giving presentations. I'd also have a module with a grammar refresh and some basic plot and character development tips. A module on policing, investigative procedures and forensics would also be helpful for crime fiction authors. A unit on diversity and sensitivity also will never be wasted. There's a reason the writing organizations offer workshops on writing and content, offering a wealth of information for  writers at every level.

Ultimately though, professional writers spend their entire lives accumulating information and experiences that cannot be taught in a course. Every job gives insight that can be useful down the road. Most writers are sponges, absorbing all they can from every experience to process and use in their stories. Beginning writers should draw from their own backgrounds because everyone brings something different and valuable to the table.


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