Every published writer I know will tell you the same thing. The most often asked question of us is – how do you become a writer? I’ve written lots of articles for various publications around this subject and here is a distilled version of each of them!
So, if you think you have a book in you, or you’re planning on being the next John Grisham, here’s my advice…
Absolutely, now is the time to start that novel!
From what I can see, there are two types of writers out there:
a) The Plotters – ie, people who sit down and draw up diagrams and personalities for characters and know exactly what the very final words on the page will be before they begin!
b) The Pansters! these are the people who tend to actually write books and get to the end and even get published! You might call them chancers, or flying by the seat of their pants, but the reality is, to write a book, the hardest part for most people is beginning it. We can all hang around like that famous Shakespearean character and procrastinate until the cows come home, but without putting words on the page, I’m afraid it won’t get written.
So my advice to you is this…
If you have an idea, start scribbling. Don’t worry if you’re beginning at the start, the middle or the end. Anything you write will not be wasted.
I’m not saying everything you write will be published, but I do believe that any of us writing now have served a sort of private apprenticeship, which has involved putting many words on the page which never see the light of day.
I could regale you with finding novels (yes complete novels 100k words) on my computer and having forgotten I actually wrote a whole book – this has happened to me twice and on one of those occasions, I’m really glad I didn’t send it out to an agent, because it was, in hindsight complete drivel!
So, write what you can, if you come to a road block stop and write something else, mix it up with a short story or a poem, give the work time to breathe and then go back and edit, again and again and again.
Writing and publishing is hard, there are no easy routes, but you might be lucky and get your work out there straight off – my hope for you is that you do!
If you don’t, the second piece of advice I’ll give you is…. don’t give up! It really is worth it, if you want it badly enough 🙂
Don’t get discouraged if you see your classmates getting published before you, perhaps there is a reader waiting for you also, they may just not be ready yet! Wish them well and ask your peers, the people who will be your readers one day to look over your manuscript. Most of the editors out there now are young, twenty something year olds; so if your friends like what you’re writing and they’re honest enough to tell you if something isn’t working, that will take a lot of time out of your editing. You can be guaranteed, if you can reel them in, the same will apply to other readers too.
My final words for you are…
If stuck, Steven King’s ‘On Writing…’ is inspirational and enlightening.
For plot – Robert Mc Kee’s ‘Story.’ he’s a screen writer and he’s good at showing ways to keep things moving.
If you’ve already written your book and edited and polished it to a shine then From Pitch To Publication by Carol Blake is a gem of a book giving you an inside view of what you should do next and how things work in the publishing business.
Finally, when you are tired or feeling a little apprehensive ‘The Artists Way’ by Janet E Cameron is like a spa break for writers!
Wishing you the very best of luck because as well as being able to write, there’s a little bit of that needed too,