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View Full Version : Things You Have Learned From Others Here At AW



Sean D. Schaffer
01-09-2009, 06:36 AM
Hi again, everyone, :)


In keeping with my other thread, Writers' Pet Weaknesses, elsewhere in the Roundtable, I wanted to post a thread that discusses the things we've learned from each other.

In other threads, I've come out and said I was sick of so much advice, and I feel like perhaps you all might think that because of those words, I've somehow thrown out every piece of advice I've gotten here. This thread is intended to show that, though we might not agree with each other on everything, we still have learned valuable insights into our own writing styles, methods, and other important issues that make us better writers.

So basically, if you all want to add how you've improved at your Craft and who has helped you to do so, I'd be glad to hear what you all have to say.


So I'll start with myself. Here are some people I've learned from here at AW, followed by some of the things I've learned from them:


1. James D. Macdonald -- If it works for you, it's right. In other words, what works for Stephen King might not entirely work for me, and that's okay. It doesn't have to, so long as what I do works for me.

2. Robeaie -- Don't quote things as fact in a discussion, if a) you don't know it's a fact, and b) you don't have references to back you up.

3. Triceretops -- If an agent or an editor takes longer than expected to get back to you, there's a bigger chance they're seriously considering your work for acceptance. Also, I learned that if they give me a personalized rejection, or even a form with notes on how to improve your story, you've improved a lot as a writer.

4. Neurofizz -- Develop a thick skin. In other words, don't take a rejection as a personal insult.

5. Birol -- Don't worry about how terrible you think your work is when you're in the middle of a draft. Get it done, then think about how you can make it better.

6. DaveKuzminski -- Don't tell people how bad you think your work is. Tell them how good you think it is, and let them decide whether they think it's worth their time or not.

7. reph -- Don't give people empty praise. Your praise means a lot less if you do than if you don't.


Of course, I've not listed all the people who have told me these different things. This is only a partial list, because these are the people I remember most readily. Lots of people have been involved in teaching me the same things I've listed above, but these people, for some reason or another, stand out in my own mind. I do not intend through this post to leave anybody out. :)

Don Allen
01-09-2009, 06:47 AM
This is truly from the heart, I've learned from the people on these forums and in these threads that those who have a passion for writing, whether published or not, have a broad range of knowledge that surpasses the masses. They challenge you, they may you think and they make you better. Haskins for one, once advised me not to be dishonest with my interpretation of a political event I was writing about. I knew exactly what he meant and made it a point ever since to be true to my beliefs without buying into the public perception. A little thing, maybe, but where else can you be held to a higher standard than by fellow writers.....

Virector
01-09-2009, 07:34 AM
I just really appreciate people's honesty when giving feedback. Sometimes things are said which the writer may or may not be too happy about, but at the end of the day, you gain an appreciation of all the flaws in your craft that you may have been ignorant about.
I've also learned to find the 'constructive' in 'constructive criticism', which in the early days of my membership I interpreted as attacks and insults. But looking back now at some of those 'mean' comments, you realize hey, I totally get what s/he was saying. I also learned the age old lesson that its not about quantity, but quality. I used to post A LOT of crap in SYW daily, until someone came right out and told me to knock it off, which really brought me back to my senses!:D

But of all that I've learned here on AW, the most valuable lesson was gaining an appreciation for myself and my own life. I'll never forget how a few months back when I felt really low and didn't really think I had anyone to talk to, I poured out my sorrow here, which I thought was a big mistake, but I was wrong. It touched me how so many people took their time to sit down and offer words of hope and encouragement which really uplifted my spirits, when they didn't really have to, but they did and for that I have a deep-rooted respect for the members of AW and for all the valuable lessons I've learned here. :)

Mumut
01-09-2009, 08:17 AM
I've learnt all the really important, get-it-published facts from AW. I've also found a new and real type of friendship - the super-helpful kind.

Mr Flibble
01-10-2009, 03:34 AM
Mumut beat me over the head with a large mallet until I got the comma addiction under control ( thanks Mumut)

JCD helped me see what a good query is.

Ken taught me that I have to BIC!

The SFF guys taught me I wasn't alone in my oddities ( well most of them lol)

And the reppies have taught me there are some really great people here. Even if some of them have mucky brains. Just how I like it ;)

Ken
01-10-2009, 04:13 AM
...have learnt lots here from many members, and will come back and edt this post to include 'em, but for now just wanted to say IRUs has taught me that one can become published much quicker and increase their chances of being so if they approach writing strategically and have a definite battle plan. Of course it also helps to have lots of talent and smarts like she's got. Interested in seeing what else she's yet to achieve in coming years. // And of course, a thousand thanks to other fellow BICers who've got me writing through thick and thin by setting excellent examples of commitment and die hard dedication to the craft. You shipies rock!

KTC
01-10-2009, 04:19 AM
Sean, I actually saw your comments on advice received as an indication of your growth. Like I said in one of the threads in which you made the comments, I felt the same way. When I came here I thought that I knew nothing and everybody else was far above me. That made me want to accept all the advice. This is almost impossible here as in some threads you can find dozens of different opinions. It's mind-boggling sometimes. To come to that place where you feel intuitively what advice would work for you and what advice does not apply to your situation...that is personal growth. In my opinion, anyway.

People here have taught me a lot. I don't always accept the advice given anymore. I am even quick to give some myself. The important thing for me is the community. The sense of belonging and understanding that even though we are all different, we share an immense love for and respect for a craft that we share...that's priceless.

Alvah
01-10-2009, 04:20 AM
I have learned:

-There is no substitute for writing every day. It's an essential
requirement for improving.

-It's O.K. if the first draft is embarrasingly bad.

stormie
01-10-2009, 04:22 AM
I could list names, but I know I'd accidently leave someone out. So:

I've learned that hugs feel so good, esp. when you need them most.

Write. And write well. That means never stop learning.

Do your research.

Don't give up. Even when you feel like what you're writing isn't worth you-know-what.

AW is the best writer's board around. Over the years I've belonged to many. None compare.

scarletpeaches
01-10-2009, 04:24 AM
I'm not seeing any scarletpeaches love here. :rant:

Well. I have learned from the collective group of everybodies how to tighten my prose. Cutting down on adverbs, showing instead of telling, avoiding passive voice, you name it. All stuff that's in the 'how to' books. All stuff that passed me by until I joined here.

NeuroFizzyWizzyLet'sGetBusy's mantra "Finish it!" is now burned into mah brainz.

Or, to translate thethinker42-stylee, "Gerronwi' gerrin' it writ!"

Fullback
01-10-2009, 06:15 AM
James D. Macdonald is very helpful, isn't he? It's no accident that even his posts here are clear and concise.

Reading AW has showed me that good thinkers and writers are rare. Some people have thousands of posts about writing but nothing to say. Blabbering is not content and turning sentences of it into paragraphs doesn't make someone a writer. Is it any wonder that so few people are published?

It's a great place for the aspiring writer who recognizes the difference between the golden nuggets of knowledge and the trinkets.

Sean D. Schaffer
01-10-2009, 10:46 AM
One thing I've learned over the years here is to use -ly words as seldom as possible. I've also learned that I don't have to make my work sound like garbage to keep the -ly words down. :)

scarletpeaches
01-10-2009, 04:05 PM
I think the most important thing I've learned is you never stop learning.

Which means there will never come a point where I know it all and still get rejected so I may as well give up.

Where there's room for improvement, there's hope that such improvements will mean another agent will like my work.

JJ Cooper
01-10-2009, 04:27 PM
James D. Macdonald is very helpful, isn't he? It's no accident that even his posts here are clear and concise.

Reading AW has showed me that good thinkers and writers are rare. Some people have thousands of posts about writing but nothing to say. Blabbering is not content and turning sentences of it into paragraphs doesn't make someone a writer. Is it any wonder that so few people are published?

It's a great place for the aspiring writer who recognizes the difference between the golden nuggets of knowledge and the trinkets.

Bolded mine. Gold.

JJ

ccarver30
01-12-2009, 09:03 AM
The beautiful Ray (Wong) always keeps it real and gives great advice.
Peachy Scarlet and Namatu keep me in high spirits with their sense of humors. :)

Toothpaste
01-12-2009, 09:21 AM
Reading AW has showed me that good thinkers and writers are rare. Some people have thousands of posts about writing but nothing to say. Blabbering is not content and turning sentences of it into paragraphs doesn't make someone a writer. Is it any wonder that so few people are published?

It's a great place for the aspiring writer who recognizes the difference between the golden nuggets of knowledge and the trinkets.

How wonderful to take a thread that is meant to be uplifting and turn it into a sweeping insult towards the veterans here at this site. Your point is a valid one (more words does not necessarily equal more intelligence true), but one that, I think, could have been made with less bile issued towards the community. If you don't enjoy it here, you don't need to stay here (or at least relegate your visits to the Uncle Jim threads). Then again, maybe reading the blabbering of the many unpublished authors here gives you a great sense in your superior thinking and writing abilities.

(btw if anyone thinks I am responding to this comment because I feel personally insulted, I am not, but I don't really like people coming in and insulting a community I am proud to be a member of, especially in a thread meant to be a show of support)

As to the question at hand: Personally I have learned a heck of a lot about the industry here. And really am grateful to Nathan and now Jennifer who come and spend time to answer questions. I have also learned that while the road to publication is very difficult, it isn't some magic trick. I have watched people go from getting their queries torn apart in Query Letter Hell, to acquiring an agent, to publishing deals. It just shows you that with the right tools, and the drive, it truly is possible.

Birol
01-12-2009, 09:53 AM
5. Birol -- Don't worry about how terrible you think your work is when you're in the middle of a draft. Get it done, then think about how you can make it better.

Thank you, Sean. This gave me a much appreciated warm fuzzy.

stormie
01-12-2009, 07:56 PM
How wonderful to take a thread that is meant to be uplifting and turn it into a sweeping insult towards the veterans here at this site.
There's always one....

HeronW
01-12-2009, 08:14 PM
Writers write--whether epics, limericks, one word challenges, silly sh*t, serious sh*t and everything in between and around. AW has a great selection of folks with all sorts of abilities, and usually high on that list for every member is respect--whether beginners or sages.

--Fullback can learn that too.

caseyquinn
01-12-2009, 08:36 PM
i've learned i will never ever ever know 1/2 of william haskin knows about poetry.

Fullback
01-13-2009, 04:05 AM
"Some people" means some people. If I said some people are drama queens, it is not a "sweeping insult" of everyone. It means that some people are.

I didn't address any one person because that would be rude, and I didn't dictate what and where people should post their opinions. That is what you are doing. If I have a problem with an individual poster, I can put them on the ignore list without the drama of saying so in public.

I think that AW is not much different than any population. There are good, bad, smart, not-so-smart, funny, humorless, talented and talentless people. I'm sorry if that opinion caused you such angst.

Just for the record, I consider myself to be one of the not-so-smart ones and a very poor writer.

Added: I won't post any further. This is a distraction to readers.

aka eraser
01-13-2009, 04:31 AM
I've learned that there's always something to learn and as this community grows, there's always someone new to learn something from.

I've learned that much of what I learned the hard way, in the 60s and 70s, is still relevant today - because although technology has radically altered nearly every aspect of writing - people are still people. Editors are still harried. Writers are still motivated by angst and dreams. Some markets are still slow to pay.

And so it goes.

Brindle Chase
01-13-2009, 04:59 AM
I've only been here a little while, but have learned a few things.

1. Just because the best sellers do it, doesn't mean it's necessarily a good thing.
2. Just because its considered a no-no, doesn't mean it's necessarily a bad thing. See #1. (if best sellers do it, there is some merit behind it. If alot of best sellers do it and its still considered a no-no, you might want to question the credentials of who is saying its a no-no)
3. Having people who read and or write your genre make the best beta readers over those who do not.
4. General critique can be misleading. What applies to one genre, often doesnt apply to another. See #1.
5. Critique is usually good intentioned, don't take things personally.

Cathy C
01-13-2009, 05:19 AM
I've learned it's just as okay to be happy about stupid sh*t as it is to be happy about the most important stuff. The unmitigated joy of one author holding their first book in their hands is the same as another having received their first request for pages, and both aren't in any way diminished by another hitting the NYT list. They're equally fabulous!

I've also learned that's it's okay to start out with sucky writing. Things change, people grow and we all---every one of us---wince at the early stuff we wrote. It's all a process and the process is never complete (THANK HEAVENS!! :D )