- As the CEO of Creative Writing Institute, what do you make of the new publishing landscape? It's disastrous, but inevitable. The publisher is no longer the dividing line. I'm all for vanity presses, but most Ebook self publishers skip the learning curve (along with the education, hard knocks, rejections, and all the rest) and jump into a huge literary vat that now stirs both good and bad writing together. The reader is the loser. He/she has no clear-cut way of sorting it out. As an example, I once wrote to an up-and-coming public speaker about his Ebooks and pointed out numerous errors. His reply was that he didn't care as long as they sold. In my opinion, he is degrading his gift.
- What advice do you have for struggling authors? Learn proper writing skills. Be knowledgeable about today's markets before you get into the fray. Count the cost and be sure that you're willing to pay in blood before you lose an arm or a leg. Trust education to get you where you want to go. Every new writer is a bright star waiting to be discovered and there's still time to compete in the tried and proven method. The editors are the gods of the writing kingdom and thousands of new online markets have opened in the past few years. If you know what you're doing, you can find publication quickly and easily online. Hint: don't write your material first and then try to sell it. Learn how to market first and then write for the market that matches you best.
- What do you love most about the process of writing? The release! Writing is a healing balm, a place to empty the depths of your soul. The real fun comes in mixing your deepest secrets with fiction... and the reader can't one from the other. Just think about the power you possess! You can create a life into existence, maim it, or kill it. You can create anything you can imagine. You can feed the reader red herrings (false clues) and pull the rug out from under him with a twist ending. You can build new worlds, trade dimensions, drive your characters insane, keep the reader guessing, or just journal your heart and hide it away. Writing is one of the greatest powers on earth.
- What makes for a great writer? A great writer keeps him/herself open to all the developments of life and literature. Great writers read a lot. They dig into their deepest emotions and bare their souls. Don't be afraid to let someone influence your voice or style. You will always be you. No one will express a story or article quite like you. You are your own individual, with your own fingerprints, footprints, iris, and writing voice. Don't be afraid to let that grow by reading and studying freshly published authors. Never quit learning. Never become satisfied with who you are. Stretch yourself to reach your star.
- Which skills must a writer possess? Knowledge, persistence, patience, a hard shell, and marketing know-how are absolute essentials. Never share your work with family and friends. Nine times out of ten, they (who have never written a word) will be your worst critics. They will dash your dreams to bits and grind them into powder. To find others like yourself, join writing forums and let other writers critique your work. Two good sites are writing.com and mywriterscircle.com. Subscribe to good writing magazines to stay up on the latest trends. Personally, I like The Writer Magazine.
- Can creativity really be taught? The Free Dictionary says creativity is possessing the ability or power to create, characterized by originality, expressiveness, and imagination. Let me give you some interesting figures:
- Out of 100 people, approximately 80% will want to write at some point in their lives.
- Out of those 80, only 40 will complete one story/article and actually submit it.
- Out of those 40, only 20 will submit a second time.
- Out of those twenty, five won’t follow the guidelines, five won’t follow general writing rules, and at least two will use poor formatting, grammar, and punctuation. All of those will hit the trashcan.
- Out of 100 people, we now have 8 people remaining. That 8% is the competitive group of writers that will keep learning and keep submitting - and they will succeed. The formula is simple: success = knowledge + perseverance + constant submissions.
- Why do so many people want to be writers? For a variety of reasons.
1. For recognition.
2. To build self-esteem.
3. To help others avoid painful life experiences, or to help them survive.
4. People write because they have something important to say and no one else will say it quite the same way.
5. They write for vanity and ego.
6. Some writers want to leave their mark on earth just to say they've been here.
7. Some write because they're competitive.
8. But most write because of the release. Serious writers have two choices: either write and release, or blow up like a pressure cooker that has no escape valve.
Just as Whitney Houston had to sing, Michael Jackson had to dance, and Michelangelo had to paint, writers must provide an exit for their smoldering flames or be consumed by them. Years ago, I taught piano and I told my students, "If you can be happy without playing piano, don't play." I said that because respecting the art is urgent. Any gift is precious. If you accept the gift, you must accept the responsibility to develop it properly so as not to disgrace that which you love. Today I tell some writers - if you can be happy without writing, don't write, but if your soul burns with words that must escape, don't shame your craft or yourself by giving it less than your best.