“I want to be a creative writer, but I need creative writing help.”
I hear some version of that phrase at least once a week—always spoken as a whispered lament, as if asking for creative writing help was somehow shameful. When I indicate, however noncommittally, a willingness to at least listen, one or more of the following questions usually follows:
- Where can I get real creative writing help?
- Do I really need to go to school for this?
- Can you really make money as a creative writer?
- Where do you get jobs?
- Are your clients hiring?
- Will you teach me?
In order, those answers are:
- Lots of places. You can start with me.
- No. But you should get some form of professional training and development.
- Yes. At least enough to keep the fridge filled. Maybe more.
- From people who need a writer.
- Not unless I quit in most cases. So…no.
- Will you learn?
It’s okay to ask for creative writing help. In fact, it’s much better to work on your skillset than it is to assume expertise that has not been confirmed in the marketplace.
No one ever learns anything of any real value all by their lonesome. One of the main reasons I offer creative writing help as a service is because I had the benefit of a tremendous mentor. He recognized potential in a twenty-year-old kid. He also, correctly, ascertained I had not yet developed my craft.
My mentor didn’t laugh off my lack of skill. He helped me hone it. That’s the difference between handing someone a Craftsman catalogue and helping them build that bookshelf.
With his help I learned to identify and apply the tools of the trade. It’s the same with most working writers. I’ve never met anyone whose first draft of their debut book was ready for prime time. Most are not even ready for 3 AM public access TV.
So how do you get creative writing help? Every case is different, and every person is at a different place. Some of you have your own cherished set of tools; you just want someone to buy what you build with them. Others are still staring into the toolbox trying to decide if they need a wrench or a hammer. But the bottom line is summed up in the answer to that last bulleted question: “Will you learn?”
That, Aspiring Writer, is the key.