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Confessions of a Novice Writer

November 5th, 2010

At the beginning of this year, I finally breathed life in my long-held ambition to become a writer.  After months of procrastination, I got in touch with The Writers Bureau and signed up for the Comprehensive Writing Course.  Within a few days, the package containing the glossy coursework landed on my doorstep, and I duly set to work.

Sinead Fitzgibbon

Now almost a year later, it’s time to pause and take stock.  What have I learnt in the intervening months?  The answer is, quite simply, a lot.  The coursework is packed with useful tips on how to maximise your potential as a writer.  The following are a few such nuggets of wisdom which I have found particularly useful in practice:

1. A new writer should be aware that a strange parallel universe exists in the world of magazine deadlines; time is distorted beyond recognition – Hallowe’en comes in April and Christmas in June.  Editors, the absolute rulers of this peculiar realm, need to plan ahead, and consequently, so do you.  Submitting articles too late for the intended publication date is guaranteed to result in rejection.

2. It’s part of a writer’s job to be incurably curious. Or, to put it another way, we need to read – voraciously. Reading is the ultimate weapon in a writer’s armoury; it allows us to improve our vocabulary, sharpen our style and provides us with unlimited sources of inspiration.

3. Back up your work!  It is amazing how many times we forget to do it.  My laptop was swiped by burglars recently, and (yes, you’ve guessed it) I hadn’t backed up.  I lost months of work – quite a setback for a fledgling writer!

4. Finally, believe in yourself.  I’ve discovered most crises of confidence are of our own making.  Try to remain positive in the face of the inevitable rejections that will come your way; this is something even the most successful writers have to contend with.

For me, the journey so far has been (to risk a cliché) akin to a ride on a particularly scary rollercoaster.  Perhaps the most important thing I’ve learned this year is to just swallow my fear and enjoy it!

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