Aug 16, 2010

"Things to do to become a writer" by Josh Berk

Last week during the writeoncon conference Josh Berk gave a virtual key note. He shared this wonderful poem. I contacted him and asked if I could share it with our readers. He said he would be honored.
So here it is. Enjoy!

"Things to do to become a writer"
Be born into a house filled with books.

Spend some of your time living fully in the world

And part of your time watching it.

Study poetry so that you learn to love language for language's sake. 

Then study journalism so that you learn how to get out of the way of a good story.

Read everything you can get your hands on.

Write a poem or a story or an article that will never be published.

Read some more.

Write another poem or a story or an article that will never be published.

Find someone who will read your work and tell you what they think. 

If they tell you it's wonderful and there is nothing that should be changed, find someone else. If they tell you that it's over-written and boring in parts tell them thank you.

Then write it again, even though it will never be published.

Read no more than two books on how to write, and no less than one.
Write a poem or an article or a story that will be published! And celebrate a bit. 

Raise the bar slightly for yourself and try to publish somewhere bigger.

Don't despair when this doesn't work. Keep writing. Write stories, poems, articles, anything.

Does one of them feel like it could be a very long story? Twenty pages? Fifty pages? Keep working at it even if - oh my Lord - it feels like you're writing a novel.

Don't think about it too much. Just keep writing. 

This novel will never be published.

Show it to your writing partner. And listen to what they have to say. Listen to what everyone has to say. 

You must be doubtful enough of yourself to realize that you are a beginner not an expert. You have work to do. You have tricks to learn. 

But you must be confident enough in yourself not to give up despite the mounting rejections.

That's really what they're called. Rejections. Why did you sign up for a profession so filled with rejection? 

You must enjoy the work. Because even if you do all these things there is no promise of any sort of anything at the end. 

And that story that grew and grew did become a novel! 

And hopefully it was at least a little bit of fun writing it. Otherwise you won't do it again. Which is too bad because this one was not published & never will be.

So you write another one. You take everything you learned from those books, everything you learned from your critique partner, everything you learned from the countless hours writing that first one. 

And you write another one.

And it doesn't get published.

And then idea strikes you -- something wild and weird and strange and unforgettable. And it's all you think about. You become the character. 

And you write for the love, for the fun, for the art, for the magic. You write like a poet, you write like a journalist, you write like a story-teller. You write like a novelist.

And your critique partner reads it and says, "You're ready.

After you fix these 25 things."

And so you do. And you polish and polish and polish and then: it's business time. Don't fret about the business. If you're savvy enough to put together a job application and ace an interview, you're savvy enough for the business. 

It's not you they care about anyway. It's the writing. So you write a query letter, you send it out to a bunch of agents, and, hey ... one of them likes your book. Enough to tell you to do massive re-writes. So you do. Because you can sense it. Your foot in that door.
And a literary agent offers to represent you -- offers to represent your book -- well it's just a manuscript now, no one even hints of calling it a book yet. But some day.

And a lot of revisions later.

It will be.

-Josh Berk

Check out Josh's blog and see what he's been up to. 

Posted By: Carol Lawrence


Hazel said...

Thanks to Josh for sharing this! Great words of wisdom...never give up!

Critique of the Unique

Anonymous said...

What if the world were different? What if the world were a place where everybody was happy? What if the world were a place where everything (animals and plant life included) was at peace? What if we, as humans, lived harmoniously with our surroundings? What if the purpose of life was to be joyful – all the time? The intention of this blog is to provide examples of answers to these questions.

We are all co-creators of the future.

Adhering to this premise, all of the posts that can be found at “Imagine Into Being” are intended to co-create the future. These “imaginings” are wonderful additions to the possibilities of what is to happen in the future. Every thought ever created is part of a grander collection of thoughts. The more times a thought is believed and energy it garners (by way of more and more people believing it), the more likely it is that this thought is going to occur. This is the perfect reason for this blog.

The world is aching for more positive and intentional thoughts to be added to the collection. This blog seeks to do that by contributing a number of intentional and very different possibilities for the world.


With Love and Gratitude,

The Intentional Sage

Rachel said...

Thanks for visiting my blog, I have become a follower. Your blog is great! Thank you for reminding us of what a great responsibility we have as parents!!

MFEO2009 said...

Thanks so much. I've only just begun and yet, it's so easy to get discouraged. I definitely need to remember that persistence pays off!
Try and try again...try and try again ;)

SquirrelQueen said...

Great information for budding writers. I'm more into photography but I have several writer friends who could benefit from this.

Thanks for following my blog, I am following you back.

Have a great week!

Lucy said...

This is so great. Reminds you that persistence is possibly the greatest factor in success. Thx for posting.

Lucy said...

This is so great. Reminds you that persistence is possibly the greatest factor in success. Thx for posting.

Christine Wang said...

i love to write and i love how he outlined the heart wrenching process of having the persistence and courage to write things that are near and dear to your heart.

Betsy ( said...

I thank you for your positive post on writing. Everything that is published about writing a book is so discouraging! I did what you suggested two years ago and now I have a book that has been published for one year now. I've sold around 700 books! And I self published. I've never had so much fun! I'm working on several other books now. (and teaching preschool as well) But I keep on writing even when I feel discouraged! I keep on writing.

Thanks Carol and Stacy for posting this. I needed to hear this tonight!

Josh Berk said...

Thanks for posting this! I'm so glad people found it useful and even inspiring. Wonderful! Write on!