So you wanna be a writer? Use these tips to get started.
Practically everyone, at some point in their life, wants to be a writer. Whether it is when you’re 5 or 95, most people want to see their words in print. And I mean their words not just mentioned in an article. But most people never follow through with that ambition.
Usually it’s because life gets in the way; you’re too busy having fun, you’re raising a family, trying to survive financially, caring for a sick loved one, climbing the career ladder or something similar. There just doesn’t seem to be enough time, or energy, to sit and start writing your masterpiece.
Am I an expert in the writing field? Far from it. Have I sold gazillions of articles or books? No. I am successful in my own right doing articles for my work specialty, workplace violence/security. My blogs are written in my style, unpolished, blunt, direct, & unedited. For my last book…I hired an editor. It was the best money I spent. And as for my style of being blunt & direct? A reviewer compared me to your crusty old uncle, which suited me just fine!
I have some tips here for you when you finally decide to get serious and cross being an author off your bucket list. So without further ado…
- Your physical condition is no excuse or barrier to you writing. I’m totally blind and still write. With every disability there is a way around the issues to write, with few exceptions. I know of many people who say they want to write but use the excuse “I’m blind I can’t do that”. They then give up, enjoy doing nothing but socializing and existing. Disabilities are no excuse for not completing your dream of being a published author.
- Eat healthy & stay fit (as you can). This means eating everything you can to stay healthy and not be sick. Which in turn will lead to more energy and less disease. Which in turn leads to this next tip…
- Carve the time out to write. Doesn’t matter when or where it is make the time. Get up an hour earlier or go to bed an hour later. Taking an hour lunch or a 15 minute break? Use your free time, whenever and wherever you can.
- Take copious notes on anything you have for your vision. Use voicemail, yes voicemail, send yourself an e-mail, put it on paper (old school), and keep a notes file in the computer. When an idea or inspiration hits, get it down on paper before life gets in the way and the idea slips by like a greased pig!
- Don’t copy anyone else’s style. There will never be another HG Wells, Nora Roberts, John Jakes, Danielle Steel, Clive Cussler, or Jackie Collins. Be yourself. If you try to model your writing after someone else, then you’ll probably fail. Write in the same genre, but don’t try to copy them.
- Write, write, and write. And if it’s no good…so what? The idea is to get started and write. Pick your story, or genre, and get writin, or typin! And if you do this on a consistent basis then soon you can be published. And as for that nasty case of writers block you always see or possibly worry about…well that’s a different post.
- Don’t worry about grammar or spelling. That’s right don’t worry about dangling participles, verb usage, fragments, or any of that nonsense that you learned in high school or college. Why you ask? It leads into the next tip but first… In fiction you can get away with breaking some grammatical rules but in non-fiction, eh not so much. I’ve read so many articles since going blind I wish non-fiction writers would edit their work more efficiently but…
- Revise & edit. The writing world is not like it was 30 years ago and longer back. You can’t send a story to an editor and expect them to correct your mistakes. Now, most publications expect you to do most, if not all, of the editing & revising. Therefore you need to start early as a writer. But 2 little tips for your editing process; don’t start editing until you’re done with the piece. Usually what happens when you start revising & editing while writing is you get side tracked and never finish. #2 be ruthless in your editing. In both non-fiction & fiction every word counts, so if something doesn’t move the article/story forward then be like a meat cutter-cut the fat! As an example, I had a short story that I finished years ago that was about 4,000 words. Never submitted it because I didn’t think it was that good. I pulled it out this past winter and ruthlessly cut, cut, cut, & cut again and submitted to a contest in which the max word count was 3,000 words. Editing tip #3 don’t be in love with the words you write. Only the writers I named above can get away with telling publishers & editors not to edit their manuscript. Lastly, #4 don’t totally rely on spell check to help edit. Yes it’s slow going if you don’t let the computer do it but do you really want bear confused with bare, especially in a non-fiction piece?
- Observe manuscript style when submitting your work. This is an absolute must. I will again tell you a story I heard decades ago that was true, but don’t ask me for the names of the author or her novel; In the early 80s she had no money for a typewriter and only unlined colored paper to write. She wrote 1,000 pages in long hand and sent it to a publisher. It was accepted and published. Being so Avant garde’ doesn’t work anymore for the same reason I said about editing. The world has changed and publishers will file your manuscript in round file 13 for expediency.
- . Follow submission guidelines to the letter AND spirit of the magazine/newsletter/publisher. If you don’t do that then refer back to the last line in #9. If possible address your submission to the proper editor. Some won’t give you that option on their website but The sales process can be a long arduous process so…oops another post, sorry.
As I stated above, I’m not an expert by any means. I almost failed high school English classes. Never been to college or taken any college level courses in language or writing. Everything I’ve learned has been by the trial & error method. But I have published more than 70 articles, 2 books, a twice weekly blog, and formed 2 writer groups, one specifically for blind people and another for on-line collaboration/practice/short story writing.