Friday, February 24, 2012

The Difference between a Newbie Writer and A Master

You’d think this would be obvious. But it isn’t, especially if you THINK you’re a Master.

In fact, I’m not sure I ever WANT to be a Master writer. Let me explain.

Being a newbie means you are in a constant state of learning, you’re willing to be humble enough to allow another writer, editor or reader teach you.

When you’re a Master, you know everything. You are supposed to have the answer to every plot problem, every character flaw, every marketing issue. And writers block? What’s that?

Being a newbie, if you make a mistake, you can be forgiven. You are after all new at this. ;p
When you’re a Master, a mistake is the death knell for your career. One “bad” book can really set you back.

Being a newbie, you can try different genres, stretch your wings and figure out if you CAN write erotic romance. Okay, no? No problem, back to children’s books.

When you’re a Master, every move you make is scrutinized, and dissected to the point where you might not ever stretch your wings. I mean, why, you’re a Master right? You don’t need to do anything else.

The funny thing about all this is that I KNOW writers who ACT like they are a Master in their genre, so much so, that they feel the need to be superior about EVERYTHING. I find this amusing, because they are so busy lording it over the rest of us, that they don’t keep writing.

So me, the newbie (and glad to be one) is happy to nod and smile, write my books and publish them regularly. I don’t think there are many writers out there that I would call TRUE Master’s of the art. Very few.

My gut feeling is that we should ALL remain in a mental state of being a newbie. That way, we can keep growing and learning, which of course is the whole trick with being a writer. Right?


Jim said...

What is a master? Pondering the term and this post I realize that in my experience I have yet to come across a successful author (successful being defined as one who has had a number of books published - Janet Evanovich, Robert Crais, Agatha Christie, PG Wodehouse, Stephen King andTerry Pratchett as a sample) who comes out claiming to be anything close to being a "Master". It would seem that anyone claiming Master-ship is clearly telling the world they are not one. Appears to be a case of, if you have to announce how much of a master you are, you ain't one!

Ciara Ballintyne said...

There's something between master and newbie I think, and it has many degrees. As we learn, we progress from newbie to, lets call it journeyman. Or something like. Many of us never make it to master - and would we want to? When you're at the top there's nowhere to go but down.

Shelley Munro said...

There's always so much to learn and so many different techniques to try out when it comes to writing. While I'm not a newbie, Í don't even aspire to master status. I'm happy in between!

Christina Carson said...

Just as an experiment, I took a favored author at the time and read all his works in sequence. It was fascinating to watch his growth. Growing is what we do as participants in the Arts. The writers we call great are those that put us in deepest touch with reality. Maybe we call them masters, but what matters more to us as new writers is what they called themselves.

Holly from 300 Pounds Down said...

This is great advice for life in general I think! What is that quote? Pride goes before the fall. I totally agree with you that there is always more to learn. The hardest part sometimes is worrying about all the things you don't know. I like your attitude that it's ok not to know everything. And someone else commented that you can even see an author getting progressively better a lot of times in reading their early work vs. later work. I guess we are all traveling the same path on that one!

Rainy Kaye said...

A long time ago, I had a job interview with an IT company. The interviewer asked if I knew everything about a particular program.

I said, "No, but I am familiar with it, and I know how to find out what I don't know."

She smiled and said, "That is the right answer. The first sign that someone doesn't know enough about something, is when they say they know everything about it."

Pretty good rule of thumb, in my opinion ;)

Mackenzie Crowne said...

For someone who thought she was weird for enjoying everything about being a newbie, the excitement, the learning, the cover excuse for stupid mistakes, these are wise words indeed. Thanks all.

Michael Seese said...

I guess we all should work toward masterING the craft, without really expecting to reach such an end state.

Kirkus MacGowan said...

Thanks for the great post! Made me think of a quote I'm reminded of on a daily basis.

"The more you know, the more you realize you don't know."

I see this in writing, learning, my wife, and life as a parent. Every time I'm close to grasping the next subject, I realize it's only the tip of the iceberg.

Good stuff. :) Thanks!

Taryn Elliott said...

I totally agree. The moment you think you know everything I think you're in deep shit, tbh. Writing is a constant learning curve.