So you want to be a writer – welcome to the club! Here are a few tips for you brave souls who are just beginning your writing journey:
1. Own the title.
I still remember the first time someone introduced me as a writer. I felt awkward, embarrassed, and like I needed to justify the introduction. Me, a writer?!
I am going to trying to make a distinction here that may be hard to follow, so read carefully: You do not write to become a writer; you write because you are a writer. Or, to put it a different way: A writer is what you are; writing is what you do.
I write because writing is how I organize my thoughts. It is how I process the world around me. It is how I communicate best and how I connect with others. I cannot not write. Before I wrote the first blog post, newspaper article, or book, I was a writer. Before anyone read my words in a public forum, I was a writer.
Are you a writer, too? Then say so with confidence. Don’t wait for a major book contract or a talk-show interview on national TV.
2. Always be about the business of improving your craft.
The point of writing is to be heard, to connect on some level with another. As writers, we should constantly endeavor to communicate with greater clarity and effectiveness.
To do this, I encourage you to read other writers on writing; invite others to critique your work, and when they do, listen with an ear to improvement; practice – write, rewrite, repeat. Invest time in helping other writers improve their craft, too.
Two personal favorites: Stephen King’s memoir, On Writing (best book I’ve read yet on the craft of writing, and a fun read, to boot!); Emily M. Akin on Facebook, where she shares links to articles and resources for writers.
3. Develop a public presence.
Do you have a website? Michael Hyatt’s book “Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World” provides easy-to-follow instructions for building an author website. Check out the step-by-step guide to website construction at WordPress.com. Or simply Google “How to build a website” – you will find helpful resources for every level of technological savvy.
Create a Facebook/Author page and a Goodreads/Author page. To build a community of readers, post regularly and respond when your readers comment. Writing is a dialogue, not a monologue: invite readers into the conversation.
Remember that consistency and persistence are essential to effective community-building. It takes time to build a public presence and to grow a reader base, so be prepared to persevere.
4. Keep your day job.
Most writers have multiple avenues of income. If you are a teacher, a delivery driver, or a cashier at Walmart, you have a wonderful opportunity to study human nature, and this in turn will benefit your writing. If you are a full-time stay-at-home mom who is riding herd on a houseful of small children, you are part of a huge “tribe” of mothers with whom you can connect through your writing.
I know writers who do the speaking circuit and who lead writing workshops. Personally, in addition to writing fiction, I am a speaker and I produce a weekly newspaper column, I write freelance articles for a national online magazine, and I blog.
Juggling multiple responsibilities can be tricky, but wouldn’t our lives – and by extension, our writing – be boring if we all sat at home typing at our keyboards all day? The fact that writing isn’t your only job doesn’t make you any less of a writer. In fact, wearing multiple hats will probably make you a better writer.
* * * * *
Your turn! What would you add to the above list of tips for beginning writers? If you are a beginning writer, do you have questions you would like for me to address? I would love to hear from you! – Camille