Sunday, 12 September 2021

Be a Writer First

Writers often talk about their quest to be published. They talk as though it's the end result to their work - as though, when they're published, everything will change and be wonderful.

This is not exactly how it works for most professional writers. Getting your stuff published is often only the beginning - the starting point for a career that may, after a while, feel very much like where you are now - as in, working for a living!

You may improve as a writer. You may start to find it easier - though I doubt it. You may have success - whatever that means to you. But at the end of the day, wherever you may be in your writing career - a newbie or a seasoned pro - you're still in a constant burgeoning relationship with words.

I use the word 'relationship' deliberately - because I think we should see writing as a kind of mistress, toy-boy or lover.

Listen. Your starting point and your end point is to improve the way you communicate your ideas through writing.

And maintaining progress in writing is like the old joke about, "How do I get to Carnegie Hall?" The punchline is the same: "Practice, practice, practice."

Let's look at some ways to improve our craft.

Write Every Day

I know I say this a lot. But there really is no better way to improve and progress than to write consistently. For many reasons.

1. Writing every day creates a catalogue of work over time.

2. Daily writing improves your ability to immerse yourself in your fictional worlds or in the non-fiction books you're trying to write.

3. Regular writing gets rid of writer's block.

4. Regular writing improves your self confidence. You feel better about your writing the more you do it.

5. The more you write, the more your writing style improves.

Almost all of the problems that would-be authors associate with writing - or not writing - or finding it hard to get started - can be solved by a commitment to write every day.

Of course this is easier said than done for most. Especially if you have a day job or a busy life that gets in the way.

But think of it like this:

If you were a bestselling author, or even just a professional writer, what do you think you would be spending most of your time doing?

Writing, of course.

You'd get up in the morning, stagger to the computer and pump out a few hundred, or a few thousand words. To sustain your career, that would be what you'd need to do.

Clearly then, if you want to sustain a writing career, you need to start doing that first - now, before your success.

In the best tradition of self help advice, you act the thing you want to become. In order to become a serious committed writer, you need to be a serious committed writer in the first place.

This may seem obvious to you. It may not.

Many would-be writers don't understand the importance of this. They imagine that one day they will have lots of time and they'll be able to write all day - many would be writers spend their lives waiting for that time, only to find it never came - and they're still waiting.

Don't you fall into the trap of thinking that, when the publishing deal comes through, you will suddenly be in the position to write all day - the money's not that good at the beginning!

No, most newly published authors still have to find the time - and the inclination to write more.

Much better is to develop the habit now. Commit to writing as much as you can and constantly investigate ways of finding writing time.

You owe it to your future to get stuck in now - and do the work, as though you're already a published author.

Then, I believe, your inevitable success is assured.

The fact is publishers and agents like career authors who understand that rejection and rewriting, reworking your ideas and being able to take criticism, act on it and bounce back is all part of a writer's job.

If you're the kind of writer that struggles constantly with self doubt and is easily knocked back by the slightest criticism, you need to get over it. You need to show publishers and agents that you don't care what they say: you're going to do this anyway.

You write because you're a writer first and foremost.

In an ongoing relationship with words, your first love is writing.

And just like a real-life lover, you must treat writing with respect. You watch it, nurture it and study it, you can learn to appreciate it in different ways every day, and, most importantly, you do everything you can to sustain that love and benefit from the relationship.

Go for it.

Write every day.

'Til next time,

Keep Writing!

© Rob Parnell