When I first started writing, I was under some crazy presumption that writing should be a natural extension of reading (which I loved to do). Then I actually got to the end of my first manuscript and came to a shocking conclusion: writing is hard work and it isn't glamorous. Here are five things you should know if you're just starting out:
Write. I know, you're saying, “Duh.” But guess what? The hardest part of writing is actually making yourself do it. So many people tell me, “I've always wanted to write a book...” You'll never be a writer if you don't write. Don't worry about beauty and perfection. Just get the words out.
Being a writer is hard work. It can be aggravating, painful, and isolating. One of the biggest hurdles is commitment. I know writers who have a daily word quota. That doesn't work for me. Some days the words flow; other days, the words are slower than tar. So I have a daily time quota If you're working full-time, have a family, etc., that could be as small as ten minutes or a half hour. As long as you write and do it consistently.
Have your dreams, but remember reality. I'm an indie author, and I love the path I've chosen. Do I dream about being a NYT Bestseller? Sure, but do I need that to feel fulfilled as a writer? Nope, not at all. Just remember that no matter if you're an indie author or traditionally published, being a best seller is a rarity compared to the thousands upon thousands of books published every year. Have your dreams—we all need them—but remember that your life won't end if you don't sell x number of books or make x number of dollars. Your life won't end if you don't contract with a big six publishing house. There are so many options for publishing these days. Just find the one that works for you.
Read. Read. Read. It helps you stay in touch with your chosen genre. It also helps you discover what works and what doesn't. Now that I'm four published books into my writing career, it's amazing how I read not only for enjoyment, but with an editor's eye of what I really like in a book and what drives meup the wall. You can't write in a vacuum, and reading helps improve your own work.
Don't beat yourself up. Writers (myself included) are dripping with self-doubt. I never talked to a writer that had enough confidence to say, “Yup, that book I just wrote? Every single person who reads it is going to be in awe.” It doesn't happen. There will always be someone (and most likely lots of someones) who doesn't like your work. That's okay. You've got to have a thick skin to be a writer. Take criticism where it's given and always try to improve your craft. Your best novel should always be ahead of you.
Ready for more?? Check out the review of The Burn and Infraction by Annie Oldham, plus an excerpt from Infraction!!
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