In my previous two posts, I wax reflective about my philosophy of writing.
#1. Be fascinated by people. All writing finds its roots in relationship.
#2. Tell the truth. Tell it to yourself about yourself. Tell it to your readers about themselves.
Now that we are clear on those two things, I would like to take a more practical approach. (Although, those first two are nothing if not practical. And they're also applicable to the whole of life, not just the realm of writing.)
My good friend Oswald Chambers* advises us to be extraordinary in the ordinary. Although he means in a general sense, I'm going to apply his wisdom to breaking into the writing world.
I know many would-be novelists. Every coffeeshop is brimming with the next Salinger. But I know very few people who are chomping at the bit to write marketing copy. I find this curious.
It's a well-known piece of wisdom that good writers read. I will amend that statement to say: Good writers write anything they can get their hands on.
I know some of you probably think that's poppycock. "I am writing the next Great American Novel! Why should I waste my time with poetry or speech writing or technical writing?" And I'm sure you're the same fellow who believed he shouldn't have to take math classes as an English major.
It's important to master as much writing as you can because writing can't be compartmentalized. Perhaps you ARE well on your way to writing the next Gatsby. What will you do if your character is supposed to be a journalist and you have no idea what a journalist does, or what one sounds like? What then?
I don't believe you must master every facet of writing in order to be a good writer. But I do believe that if you attempt to take on the "excellent" things without having any experience in the "ordinary" things, your writing will be unbelievable. What's more, without a breadth of experience, your characters will all sound and look and feel the same. Odds are good that they will all sound and feel just like you.
My advice to anyone who wants to write anything at all, is to take every opportunity that comes your way. Nothing is beneath you. Everything is valuable for learning.
Looking back on my years writing sales pitches and speeches for executives and chapters for books, I truly don't see anything as irrelevant to my career. In fact, everything has served a purpose in both my writing and my personal life, which are, as it turns out, one in the same.
* Oswald Chambers is not my friend in actuality. At least not on this side of heaven.