As a writing instructor and coach I work with writers every day who are not reaching their full potential. What holds them back?
When you talk with struggling writers they generally mention one of three problems:
~ Lack of writing skills
~ Lack of writing opportunities
~ Lack of knowledge
As a writing professional with more than two decades of experience in both print and internet publishing I regularly assure the writers that I work with that none of these three obstacles is insurmountable.
LACK OF WRITING SKILL
The lack of writing skills does not have to be an obstacle to your writing goals and dreams. It is simply a hurdle that you need to overcome. I have taught students struggling to earn their GED how to write and I have taught many developmental English students how to write. Writing is a skill that can be taught, learned, and mastered just like any other skill.
Obviously there are levels of ability and mastery just as there are with many other skills, but with time and practice almost anyone can achieve competency as a writer. I cannot promise that everyone can be a master craftsman but most can become a good wordsmith.
If you feel that your skills are weak then you might consider taking a course to strengthen your writing however for many writers simply working up a regular schedule of reading and writing will do wonders for improving grammar, vocabularly, and style.
LACK OF WRITING OPPORTUNITIES
There simply isn't a better time to be a writer seeking an audience. Not only do the standard print mediums still exist in newspapers, magazines, and books there is now a wealth of opportunity available electronically in the form of ezines, blogs, and web sites. There are a plethora of paid opportunities for the experienced pro and there are a myriad of unpaid forums for the beginner looking for experience.
Seek out writing communities, both face-to-face and online, and writing publications, both traditional and electronic, and you will quickly learn about new markets and writing opportunities.
In addition, with the many available print and electronic options available sometimes you can simply make your own opportunities - create your own e-book, start a blog or electronic newsletter, or self publish your manuscript. The options are limitless.
If you lack writing opportunities then you simply aren't looking hard enough.
LACK OF KNOWLEDGE
I cringe when I hear writers whine that they don't have anything to write about. How can this be? If you are alive then you have something to write about.
Ideas come from a variety of places but the easiest place is to start with what you already know about. Look around the community (or rather communities) that you are a part of every day - including your home, church, work, and school. There are likely many writing topics there. What are your hobbies and interests? What do your friends and family ask you for advice? You have a wealth of knowledge and experience to share without doing any research - start there!
It is OK to also write about a topic that you are just beginning to investigate and understand. I often pick topics that simply interest me or that I need more information about. I'm trying to get my son to stop sucking his thumb so I have been reading up on that topic a lot lately!
Now go out and start writing. Don't let these three obstacles block you from writing success. View them simply as opportunities to learn and grow and you will succeed.
Deanna Mascle publishes the writing newsletter Word Craft Online and writing site Answers About Writing where you can also find her free “Challenge Your Muse" writing prompts and exercises. She has published three novels; written and edited numerous newspapers, magazines, books, and online publications; and teaches writing. You can read more writing advice in her blog.