If you want to be a writer there is no end to the advice you can get. You can read books and articles on crafting stories, editing, and the business of writing.
You can find out how to make your words look good on the digital screen and how to create a query letter. You can scour the library for books as well as the bookstore. There are tons of tomes that will make you a better writer should you sit down and read them cover to cover.
And, there are endless articles how to become a writer, how to make money from writing, and how write more words per day.
Heck, if you really want to you can plunk down a big chunk of change an get an e-course on how to write your book from someone who conveniently doesn’t make a living writing novels but knows how to do it.
All of this advice is good but there are probably some things that you should consider if you are just starting out.
You’re Putting The Cart Before The Horse
I see this a lot with new writers.
In the many writing circles I follow between websites and social media I see many things like this.
People asking how to get published/how to get an agent/should they start with a series or a single book?
The first thing I ask when someone asks me this is what they’re trying to publish since publishing a short story is very different from trying to get a book published.
If they say book then, I will then ask them if they’ve finished the book they are writing. I’ve lost count of the times people have said they haven’t even started.
Now, if you are going to write a book and want to become an author it certainly doesn’t hurt to be familiar with the book writing industry or getting to know how the process works.
However, you should be just getting general overviews at this point. There’s really no purpose in knowing how to get an agent before you’ve written the book since you can’t query without a finished product.
Back in the day, you could start querying with a partially finished manuscript, especially if you were an established writer, but that was still rare and now most agents would be angry should you be lucky enough to get a manuscript request and you have nothing to show for it.
Sidenote: This is for fiction. I believe that you can propose non-fiction books and then write them after the publisher accepts the proposal. But I am not familiar enough with the process to say whether or not that’s the case.
You Like The Idea Of Being A Writer More Than Actually Writing
This is very common.
I see people all the time that want to be a writer, but they don’t want to write. They put on Instagram that they’ve found the perfect writing spot, and they’ve been coming up with ideas all day, but when you talk to them again they have yet to write a word.
A lot of people are enamored with the romantic notion of the writer’s lifestyle. They think about book tours and people asking for them to sign their books. They think about getting to sit at home all day with Netflix.
Very few people want to actually sit there and bang out a couple thousand words a day.
This goes double for people that want to start a writing career and find out that it’s hard to make money writing the fun stuff and that most writers make money writing business articles or copywriting. Suddenly it doesn’t seem like such a glamorous life.
You Don’t Write Enough
This fits in with the point made above.
But, many people that want to be writers don’t write nearly as much as they need to.
First, if you just to write as a hobby and publish and article here or there and work on the book you’ve always wanted to write then that’s perfectly okay. Not everyone needs to be a professional. In fact, some of the best writers do it merely as a hobby.
But, if you want to make a living writing then there’s really no getting around it. You’re going to have to put in the work for a few reasons.
One, the more you write the better you get at it. You won’t improve writing a couple hundred words a month. Yes there are some writers that seem to be a natural, but if you were one of those writers you wouldn’t be reading this article.
But, that’s okay. With some work and some practice, you can become a good writer and make money. Writing doesn’t come to me naturally, and I still have to work to not make anything I write not sound like repetitive garbage. So I’m proof that you don’t need natural talent.
But, you have to get keyboard time in. Even if you aren’t getting paid for it yet you need to write. A lot. I would aim for at least a couple hundred words a day if not more.
Stop Spending All Your Time Reading How To Write Articles
I am guilty of this.
In college when I was thinking about becoming a writer I consumed every article out there on how to write.
But, the lessons in these articles will pale in comparison to what you’ll learn trying to write.
You will fail and get back up and it will teach more that any writing course.
And, you have to be careful. The writing industry changes. The articles that I read two to three years before I ever tried to write are outdated. New opportunities and platforms pop up that the working professionals writing articles didn’t use.
So, you just have to figure it out and get writing.