You love making up stories and the idea of having your own book someday thrills you. So you want to be a writer. What next?
It’s that simple—or difficult. Just write, write, write. Then go back and rewrite. But keep writing, every day if you can. You’ll get really good at it because you’ll be practicing all the time. Make yourself finish each book you start. Because if you can’t finish a book, you can’t write one. This is a very important rite of passage for authors. Complete one book, then write another, then another, and so on.
Read some books on writing. Click here for some of my recommendations.
Start following some blogs on writing. Click here for some of my recommendations.
Join some groups of writers. Click here for some of my recommendations. And be willing to take the advice of others.
You’ve written your book, submitted it to dozens of editors and agents, and no one wants it. Rats! But don’t lose heart. And don’t give up. Put aside that book and start polishing the next one. Too many writers hold on to that favorite idea for so long that they end up wasting time that could be spent writing something new. Learn to be flexible. Because in most cases, an author’s first book is often not his first published book.
Also, when you write a whole book, characters and plots sometimes take over and your plans for the story don’t fit. You might have to let go of your plans. Often the story and characters know better than you. That may sound strange, but when your story comes alive, that’s a good thing. Trust it.
Being a writer means being criticized. A lot. It’s part of the job description. Get used to it early on. And realize that you can learn something from every criticism. But don’t react to them. Don’t defend yourself. It’s bad form. Accept all feedback with humility and grace. Then think it over, use what you can, and ignore the rest. Because there will be plenty to ignore.
And give to other writers without looking to get back. Purchase your favorite author’s books and your friends books new. Support your author friends and your industry. Don’t trash talk it. Word gets around. Your reputation is at stake.
You’re going to have to be persistent. You’re going to have to pick one idea and stick with it until you finish a book. Then you can go back to all 237 of your other ideas and write a different one. But I’ve met too many authors who’ve never finished a book because they’ve been “perfecting” chapter one for three years. Accept that your first draft might be a mess. That’s okay. Just finish the book. Then you can go back and have something to fix. Because, really, by the time you finish the story, you might find out that chapter one is no longer relevant to the story because of how the book ended.
But part of persistence is also knowing when to put that book down, submit it to editors and agents, and start writing another book. Treat rejections as another step toward publication. Finish that second book and submit that one too. Just keep on swimming. You can do it! You may fall a few time. You may make mistakes. So dust yourself off and try again. It’s all part of the learning process.
No one likes the word “patience,” especially in this “get it now” world we live in. But there is a reason for sayings like: “Good things come to those who wait.” Because it’s true. Sure, anyone can pay money to have his book printed today. Frankly, he can do it for free if he has the right graphic and computer skills. But should he? Likely not. At least not until he’s put in the time to learn his craft.
Pace yourself like a marathon runner. If you go too fast in the beginning, you could ruin your whole run. Not that you can’t start over. You always can. But being in a hurry is not to your advantage.
It will be hard. You’ll see others getting published before you, and you’ll long to have a book out too. But if you want to be a serious writer, and you like the idea that this could be your career, then take it seriously and prepare for years of training. Don’t be in a hurry and publish a book that will be a mess. Your career is on the line! Make sure that your first book is your best one! Nothing comes easy. And if it does, there is probably a catch. If you work hard and respect your dream, and make up your mind that you will not rush this, you will be on the right track from the start. And when you do get that first book published, it will be the real deal.