~~Dream with wings—and you will soar to new heights~~

How to be a writer

How to be a writer? The first question you should ask yourself is, why should I become a writer? If your answer contains the words passion, love, or it’s not about the money, then you are ready to give it a whirl. Many times, people decide to write based on money or fame. If you do that, you could be in for a harsh awakening. There are no fast-tracks to the writer money train. It’s a slow grueling process that will likely remove more money from your wallet than it adds.

Few writers make it to the big time. Why? The market is overly saturated with writers, good and bad. Take a look at Amazon, there's over 33 million paperback books published alone. Not to mention e-books, hardbacks, and audio. Just because you wake up one day and decide you want to write, doesn’t mean you'll have what it takes to corner the market and line your pockets with gold. Even if you are the best writer in the world, starting out is difficult. Forgive me for this tired, old cliché, but 'don’t quit your day job'. Honestly, it’s the best advice I can give to aspiring writers. Anyone can write, but it’s the quality of your writing that counts, and to be a good writer, you must write every day, read even more, and you must be in it for the long haul. Think realistically and do your research. Publishers today rarely take on new talent, even if you are a phenom when it comes to writing. The good news, publishing today is the easiest it's ever been when you do it yourself.

Okay you've given writing a ton of thought, you've done research, and there is nothing standing in your way. You write because you love it! Good for you! It will take a lot of hard work and a relentless drive to dish out quality work. Where do you start? Everyone asks me that, and my answer to them is, just write. 


Getting started

How to be a writer

Write an outline. Start with an idea and a simple subject. Make it about something you love, and describe your passion for that subject in detail. Be it beautiful dogwood trees or the fictional planet Zanzar. It’s important for a reader to be transported to that exact place in time and see the scene through your words. See How to write an outline for more help.


Write every day. I can’t stress this enough. You will become a better writer, and this is the time to see if writing is the career path for you. If you can’t write daily, you may want to rethink your decision. Again, write what you know and love, but work on making it the best thing you’ve ever written. If you do that each time you start a project, you will see your writing get better in leaps and bounds. Be patient

 

Write a short story and let your friends and family read it. Ask for honest feedback. Let’s say your sister gave you rave reviews on that story you wrote. That is great! But it's only the first step. Now, let someone other than family read it. Friends and family will love everything you attempt, and even if they don’t, they will not want to hurt your feelings by telling you. There is a website I use called Agent Query Connect where you can upload your work for other writers to critique. The good folks of that community are happy to help you, but be prepared to pay back the favor. Don’t forget to accept all forms of criticism, but don’t dwell on the bad. If you have to revise, do it. We've all been there.




Developing your craft

How to be a writer

Write in active voice not passive. Active voice--the subject preforms the action stated by the verb. Passive voice--the subject is acted upon by the verb. Here’s a few examples: 

Sally ate an apple at lunch. (Active)

At lunch, an apple was eaten by Sally. (Passive)


I will clean out the garage on Saturday. (Active)

The garage will be cleaned out by me on Saturday. (Passive) 


Jim washed the dirty window. (Active)

The dirty window was washed by Jim. (Passive) 

I wonder if Jim will do mine? Anyway, get the picture. Steer clear of passive voice. If you start your writing career keeping in active voice, the better your projects will be throughout.  

Put limits on Adverbs and Adjectives. An adjective describes a noun or pronoun. An adverb is a word or series of words that describes verbs. Examples:

  1. That is a pretty picture. (the adjective “pretty” describes picture)
  2. She walks quickly. (the adverb “quickly” describes how she walks) 

There are many haters of adverbs in the writing community. But in my opinion, they are needed here and there to make your story more interesting. Too many can bog down the reader, keep them to a minimum.  

Examples of overuse in a sentence: (adverbs and adjectives)

  1. Jill chewed her food very, very quickly.  
  2. The quiet, little, pretty mouse ate his cheese.  

Describe the narrative simply. This falls in with the above tips. Keep your descriptions simple. Examples:

  1. The gauzy curtains fluttered in the rhythmic breeze.
  2. The white, see-through, gauzy curtains softly fluttered in the light, rhythmic breeze.

Which sounds better? You got it, number one. Simple is better.

Write from the heart and always keep readers in mind. You love everything you write, but will your readers? I always say, “let your heart guide you.” However, your readers should be the most important people to your writing. They may not like every story you have to tell. And that's okay. Not everyone will like them, but it’s important to find out what readers want to read. Do research before you sit down to write. Your readers will be grateful. 


Don’t worry about typos or errors while you write. Save editing until you’re done. If you stop to correct your mistakes, (everyone has them) you’ll lose your train of thought. Keep pushing through, and let your creative juices flow. The errors can wait.



Develop good writing habits

How to be a writer

Take time for exercise before you write. Stretch it out. If you sit behind a keyboard all day in the same position, you will get burnt out and a crick in your neck to boot. Make it a habit to get up and move around periodically. Grab a glass of your favorite drink, and do a set of jumping jacks before continuing. After all, physical exercise is good for brain health. 

Stick to a schedule. Write every day around the same time. Commit at least fifteen or twenty minutes per day. Isn’t writing what drives you? Make the best of it. This applies to deadlines as well. Set a reasonable “done date" for your project and stay with it. Keep in mind, full length novels can take months, if not years, to finish. Sticking to a schedule will help you fulfill that deadline. 

Keep a pen and notebook handy. You could be in the downward dog position in your yoga class, and the perfect sentence or idea pops into your head. Straighten up, grab that notebook, and jot them down while they are fresh in your mind. I’ve found, my best ideas come when I least expect them.

These tips will get you started on the “Write” track. Watch out for more to come. Stay with it and let no one discourage you. It will take practice and patience, but persevere. You will get there. Happy writing! Back to Home Page

“The hard part about writing a novel is finishing it.”

--Ernest Hemingway.