I wasn’t very good at school.
Neither academically nor behaviourally.
During my early teen years I got in to role-playing games via wargaming, mostly through Dungeons & Dragons, then Runequest and Chivalry & Sorcery and then on to Call of Cthulhu. (None of that ‘computer gaming’ nonsense!)
I read a lot of books that the gaming worlds seemed to be based on and the games seemed like a natural extension of that interest and imagining.
What’s that got to do with the opener?
I soon found myself, through gaming, writing a lot of stuff. Writing adventures, developing the background, the game-worlds and telling lots of stories through the games.
I liked writing! Who knew!?
Time passed, I continued to game and write, and expanded my writing in to hobby magazines and fanzines, as well as in to game-supplements for games produced by other people.
All more writing.
What soon became apparent was that people assumed I had a higher degree of education than I actually had.
As I branched out in to fiction not based on games, I started to realise that the majority of people that were writing fiction were a lot better educated than wot I was.
I had to start taking a lot more notice of the ‘rules of writing’ and that included grammar.
It seemed like there were a lot of rules.
It’s here that I’ll remind you of the ‘neither academically nor behaviourally’ opener.
Rules!? I didn’t need no stinkin’ rules!
But of course I did. There were hard lessons ahead of me and I’ve failed to learn some of them to this day.
Sentence construction is a huge weakness of mine. Not my only weakness, I’ll point out before you do. But probably my biggest.
Developing a ‘voice’ as a writer seemed to be a matter of not just mastering the grammar lessons, but learning where to ignore them.
‘Interesting stuff’ thought I.
And I still do.
I’ve had and continue to have, contact with a lot of writers, which is brilliant. It’s great to be able to talk about stuff to do with writing and know that there are those out there that both feel my pain and share my stubbornness at not learning some lessons.
Editors not so much.
What I’m trying to say is this: if you’re struggling to learn the basics of what writing is, if you feel like there are too many rules and restrictions, that a lot of smart-arses seem determined to keep telling you that you’re not a proper writer until you master all the rules, just remember – tell your story.
Tell your story. Write it out. Get it down on paper, on screen, whatever, just get it out.
That’s the most important thing.
The other stuff, the rules and regulations: that will come with time, practice and exposure to supportive people.
Get writing and keep writing. Tell stories. Learn as you go.
You’ll never stop learning as long as you’re writing.