One of the interesting things about writing as a career is how much of it is self-taught. Anyone in any career needs to learn from real-life experiences, yes, but nothing seems to have that aspect quite so much as writing. When you're young, you learn to read and write in school. You keep taking English classes after that to improve your skills. If you're an English major in college, you take extra classes that look at both reading and writing, and there are creative writing classes too--but none of those things make you a career writer.
You don't write novels as school assignments. (Genre novelists in particular will struggle to find creative writing classes that focus on their craft.) You don't find beta readers or critique partners through your teacher. The majority of the traits needed to be a novelist aren't focused on in the classroom. Everything about the publishing industry that you need to understand has to be researched in your own time, and you have to keep up with changes over time. Writing and editing and sending queries all happens in your own time, and it's a very complicated and involved process.
So here are some of the things novelists need to teach themselves:
I'm sure there are more, but those are the ones that stand out to me. I've been a career woman myself since I was ten, basically, when I decided to become a novelist. Almost everything I have learned to get me this far I learned on my own. I got a wonderful push years ago in my GATE class, but even that was just fragments of what I know now.
It takes a lot of outside work to be successful in a job like this. Even a creative writing major means little unless you've already established a foundation that you're working off of outside school. So here's what you really have to do: Read. Write. Edit. Research. Repeat.
In the end, it's pretty satisfying to see what you've accomplished all on your own.
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