To become a professional writer takes time, energy and effort. If you want to be a lawyer, a teacher or an airline pilot, you don’t expect to immediately walk into a courtroom, or a classroom, or the cockpit of a plane, and start the job. To succeed at such professions you need a certain amount of study and training before you begin.
I started writing in 2005 and wrote for a year before I admitted to myself I didn’t know what I was doing. So I took a Writers Bureau Course on writing for children. I completed my first children’s novel and, as is best with first attempts, left it to sleep quietly in a box beneath my bed. The Writers Bureau Course had given me a better idea of how children’s publishing worked, but I still didn’t feel I knew how to write. You don’t expect a lawyer to learn everything in the first year at college.
I began working on my next novel and devoured every ‘how to write’ book I could find. But teachers don’t learn to teach simply by reading a book or two. They need to study in the classroom with others.
It was time for me to make a decision. If I wanted to take my writing seriously it was time to invest in myself as a writer. So, in October 2008 I enrolled at MMU to do an MA inCreative Writing (they have a Writing for Children route). My commitment was more than financial. Working full-time as well as studying meant a huge investment of time, energy, and effort in my writing career. It was a gamble. I had no idea if I would ever be good enough to be published.
Some gambles pay off. In December 2011 I signed a contract with Meadowside Children’s Books for two YA novels. This made me very happy but having a publishing contract doesn’t mean I could hang up my school bag. Even airline pilots need refresher training from time to time.
Since 2011 I’ve attended a fair number of workshops, most run by the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.
Writing is a craft, and as such it takes practice and study to master all the necessary skills. I know not everyone can take on a full-blown MA course, but there are plenty of workshops and writing courses out which require less commitment, but offer great rewards. I seriously recommend you look into attending one or two.
Here are just a few:
Workers' Educational Association (search for Creative Writing)
About the Lorrie Porter
Lorrie writes fiction which embraces a dark and emotional aesthetic and is currently working on Cradlesnatch, a story about a monster who steals children. Her first novel, Fury, has wolves, bandits and other miscreants among its pages.
Her love of writing craft inspires her blog at This Craft Called Writing, and she can be found most Saturdays delivering writing workshops in and around Manchester and Cheshire.
Lorrie lives on a narrow boat with her talented husband and impervious cat.