Never feel too embarrassed or ashamed to ask for help. Everyone needs help every now and again, no matter what they might say to the contrary. Writing isn’t a college course, a degree, or a month long boot camp run by inspirational teachers and word gurus – it’s a lifestyle. Not the woe is me, dark clothes, no friends, alcoholic lifestyle that most people associate with writing.
Instead it’s a way of living which constantly evolves – meaning you learn and you learn and you learn. And you never stop learning.
This means everyone can be a teacher; we can all instill knowledge in other writers helping them to hone their craft and improve their writing. But it can be hard to know when to offer these tidbits of advice without sounding pretentious or patronising (or bombastic…my new favourite word after finding out it was used in the 1700s!). So we hang back, keeping our knowledge to ourselves only coming clean when it comes up in conversation.
The only way we know whether people need help is when they ask for it. So swallow your pride and bloody ask! Don’t be afraid to ask what a certain word means, or what a good word for grandiloquence is (one word is ‘bombastic’ if you’re interested), or what the Hell ‘denouncement’, ‘exposition’, or ‘snowclone’ mean. Don’t suffer in silence if you have no idea how to create perfect dialogue, or how to kill off a character without it seem like one massive deus ex machine, or how to make sure your incidental characters blend into the background but still play their parts perfectly.
Ask on writing forums, chat rooms, write in to magazines, email your favourite author, read blogs, books, take part in writing events, join a writer’s circle, start your own book club, or writing night, do nanowrimo and head on out the write-ins, skulk around in the library or the reference section of bookstores until you spot other writers then pounce like a hungry leopard.
Just don’t be afraid to ask for help!