|Photo credit: Dr Phil on Flickr|
Assuming you’re 110%-absolutely-positively sure that you want to be a writer, these are seven things you will need to do:
- Write often. This should go without saying, but the only way to really improve your writing is to write. Write blog posts and poems and short stories and novels. Apply new techniques and writing styles and experiment with different voices. Write a terrible book, then rewrite it and rewrite it again and again until it’s the best you can possibly make it. Then start over and write another one.
- Read everything. YA, MG, Adult fiction, fantasy, dystopia, non-fiction, humor, literary—read everything you can get your hands on and don’t discriminate based on covers or genre.
- While reading, question everything. When you get bored with a book, stop and ask yourself why. What is it about that passage (or chapter or chapters) that isn’t grabbing you? How could you fix it? When you love something ask the same question—why? What is it, exactly, that you love? What makes it so effective?
- Learn about the craft. Read books and blog posts about writing—gather tips and tricks and techniques from wherever you can get it. But don’t just read about it—try it out in your writing. Make notes on the tips you like the most—the techniques you need the most. Highlight and bookmark and return to passages about editing while you’re editing and chapters about dialogue when your dialogue doesn’t come out the way you imagined it.
- Observe. Listen to people while you’re walking down the street or sitting on the bus or eating in a restaurant. Pay attention to everything—the way the air smells after a thunderstorm, the texture of maple leaves, the crunch of gravel beneath rubber soles. Seek out inspiration everywhere—from the imagination of a kindergartner to a lunar eclipse or a particularly terrible blizzard.
- Take your time. Seriously. I can’t stress this enough—writing is not a race. It’s not about who gets published or if you’re 15 or 80 when your debut is released or if you self-publish or go traditional or if you have an agent or if the only person who knows you write is your gerbil Leonard. The point is that you write. You read. You improve. You make your work the best that it can possibly be and then you write some more. Take your time. Write at your own pace.
- Keep writing. When
you’ve received more rejections than you can count, keep writing. When your
well-intentioned aunt asks when you’re going to finally get published, keep
writing. When you feel like your manuscript is terrible and no one will ever
want to read it, keep writing. When you have five manuscripts in the drawer and
another receiving just as many rejections as the first five, keep writing.
Because as long as you keep writing and improving and writing some more, eventually you will get published. And when you reach that milestone, you’ll surface just long enough to pat yourself on the back, then keep writing some more.
What else would you add to the list?