Apr 09

H is for Help!

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!


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  1. What a helpful post!

  2. Totally agree, sometimes I got to work shops and I want to ask a question that seems a bit daft but I think what the hell so I ask it and then a few people say, we were wondering that too but didn’t like to ask incase we looked silly.

  3. So true! I do know some who seem to think they know it all, and decide to give advice even when it isn’t wanted. They annoy me. I am all about learning, I need to. I have a brain that needs it. But to advise me when I don’t need it, because it is how they do it……that isn’t on!

    I do tend to ask for help though!

  4. Excellent advice.

  5. You’re completely right, writing IS a lifestyle and like everything, there is always more to learn.

    1. I’m just thankful there’s no exam!

  6. Excellent advice. My motto is you never know until you ask. The worst that’s going to happen is someone won’t know the answer, and your have to ask else where.

    1. Exactly! And then the person that doesn’t know will learn something new as well.

  7. Yep, I agree – -you have to be a writer al the time, noticing, watching, taking notes, assessing, and practising, and finding out more about the process. I think it keeps writers young.

    1. I do enjoy learning the finicky bits of info about the writing process…it’s a great way to put off the actual writing!

  8. I don’t know what I’d do without my writer’s group. I always need help. I have tense problems:)

    1. Writing can be tense 😛 I’m still too awkward to join a writers group.

  9. Hi…I’m hopping over from the A to Z challenge. Lovely post…good luck with the challenge.

    Donna L Martin

    1. Thanks, Donna. I’ll check out your blog today.

  10. Good post Steve – good advice. I find the TBers a great bunch when I need help.

    1. They are a great, but also distracting, bunch 😛

  1. […] writers we never stop learning (See H is for Help!) and as such we all have our very own learning curves for each new subject we tackle. Some of these […]

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