Everybody’s got a little writing skill. But if you’ve got an idea for something you’d like to get published – an article or a book, perhaps – the question is, is your skill level enough? It’s one thing to compose an email to your sister. It’s a different matter entirely when it comes to sitting down and having the wherewithal to write a publishable piece of work. Here are five questions you should ask yourself before you decide to tackle that potential writing project:
Do I have the time?
I find that most people don’t realize the time that’s involved in writing something important. Even a relatively short article can take longer than people think. There’s a process that takes place between the brain, where the ideas are, and the fingertips, which remain poised above the keyboard waiting for instructions. In a lot of cases, what goes on between these two points can render the original idea almost unrecognizable by the time it hits the screen. If you find yourself stopping repeatedly, saying things like, “Wait, that’s not what I meant to say…” then you can assume you might be getting yourself into a very long affair.
Do I have the patience?
As any good writer will tell you, effective writing is actually mostly rewriting. When we write a sentence, or a paragraph, or a page, we’ve just started the writing process. We know that there’s always a better way to write what we just wrote. And so we go back through the sentence or the paragraph or the page, and we clean it up, edit it, chop stuff out, add stuff, consider the word choices we’ve made, and make certain we’ve made the writing as clear as possible. It can be a painstaking process, but it’s necessary.
How are my organizational skills?
Lots of people stop before they even get started, sitting with tons of great ideas in their heads, or on little scraps of notepaper, but without any real idea how to take those ideas and organize them, let alone transfer them to the written page. A good piece of writing needs to start with a strong outline. One needs to be able to produce an effective introduction; a body that flows in an understandable way, with each point being properly supported; and a decent conclusion that properly summarizes, encourages the reader to take some kind of action, or both. If you’re not the organized type, you might want to enlist some help.
How are my spelling and grammar skills?
Do you know the difference between “there” and “their” and “they’re”? Between “affect” and “effect”? Your spellchecker program doesn’t. Do you know when to use “lie” and when to use “lay”? When to use “who” and when to use “whom”? Your spellchecker doesn’t know the differences there either, although some grammar-checking programs will at least offer suggestions. Even still, it doesn’t take too many wrong tenses or misplaced commas to throw a cloud over everything you’ve written, thus undoing any credibility you might have. If the work looks sloppy, it’s not going to matter that you’re an expert on the subject matter.
Can I afford a ghostwriter?
Hey, we’re not cheap. Pricing ranges all over the board, from anywhere around $50 per page up to $250. As in most professions, you pretty much get what you pay for. But realize that asking a professional writer to set aside some time to compose a decent piece of work – several months or more for a book – isn’t going to come without a price tag. If you decide it’s worth it, just make sure you’re hiring the right person and make sure all the terms of payment are spelled out in advance.
Writing is a skill like anything else. Some people want to trust it to professionals, just like they’d call a lawyer for legal help, or a plumber to fix their leaking pipes. Other people don’t mind giving it a go themselves, and some have enough skill to pull it off. It’s not a decision that should be made lightly. If the project is important enough, take a long, serious look at your own abilities and decide what the best route is for you.
Copyright 2009, Jerry Payne
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Source by Jerry Payne