Frequently Asked Question: What is one valuable lesson you’ve learned since you started writing?

insecure2bwriters2bsupport2bgroup2bbadgeHi, everyone.  I hope that you had a safe and relaxing Independence Day celebration if you’re in the USA.  Unfortunately, several people in our neighborhood were letting off illegal fireworks.  That’s hard on the local wildlife, domestic pets, and veterans with PTSD.  I hope that all will re-think this practice in the future.

Anyway, it’s time for another Frequently Asked Question.  This one comes from the Insecure Writers’ Support Group site (welcome, visitors from the blog hop!).

It’s hard to pick just one valuable lesson from all of the years I’ve been writing.  As most of you know, I have been writing for as long as I can remember.  However, I also had a career as a journalist and a newspaper editor at one point in my life.  So, there are different lessons to be learned from journalism, writing non-fiction, and writing fiction.

faq-2027970_1280When I boil down the lessons I learned from all three types of writing, though, the thing that stands out is Do Your Homework.  It doesn’t matter what your subject matter happens to be; you need to know your stuff.

If you’re not sure where to begin, take advantage of a tip I got in journalism school.  Children’s books are a great place to get a grounding in the unfamiliar that will provide enough information for you to understand what questions to ask next and where to go for more in-depth research as a result.  I used this tip most recently when researching Bayou Fire.  I was in New Orleans, looking at types of architecture I’d never seen before.  These were private homes in many cases, so I couldn’t go inside to poke around.  Luckily, I found A Young Person’s Guide to New Orleans Houses in a local bookstore.  It not only told me what the types of houses were, including their fancy decorative components, but also gave me floor plans so I would know what those houses were like on the interior.

It doesn’t matter what type of writing you’re doing; the homework that you do before you set pen to paper makes a difference.  Your story will be all the richer for it, readers who are subject matter experts (that happens even with fictional topics) will appreciate your diligence, and you’ll feel more confident about your writing in the end.

 

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14 thoughts on “Frequently Asked Question: What is one valuable lesson you’ve learned since you started writing?

  1. That’s a great idea. Kids books would be sure to be less technical too, and way to ease yourself into the subject without getting smacked over the head by 5$ words. Thanks for the IWSG post!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. What would we do without Google and YouTube? My current WIP involves a rescue scene, and–thank God–I have no personal experience with rescue operations involving battered bodies and cliffs. I’m also grateful for Facebook friends who hook me up with experts to answer my questions. I don’t want a reader who knows more than I about, say, guns, or firefighting, or medical emergencies, to fling my book away in disgust over my made-up details.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. That is great advice! I’ve just graduated from an era of extensive children’s book use. I do think they give a great overview in simple terms on a wide variety of subjects. My daughter is 12 now so I don’t make it to the children’s section much anymore.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Alex! I’ve answered the questions for the past two months but was a little shy about adding myself to the Linky before now (I don’t know why!). I look forward to reading and learning from all of my colleagues in the IWSG!

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    1. Our last dog (she passed away at age 15 in Nov 2016) hated the fireworks; we got her a Thundershirt, which helped a great deal. Our cats are not fond of it; we have our inside pets and an outside colony of ferals we care for. Luckily, all of the ferals came “home” after the booms were over. Glad you all made it through okay.

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  4. Wow, I never thought of that. Often I find the trick is knowing enough to ask the right questions, know the keywords that will help you get to the answers you need, but I never considered looking at children’s books. Thanks for the tip.

    Like

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