So you want to write? Part 1
The Challenge this week is to give writing advice, specifically your best advice. I’m going to approach it from the point of view of thing things I would have like to know when I was younger, and what I think would be helpful to those that are already writing today.
To the younger me: Three bits of advice of take to heart.
Read the Things You Want to Write.
The first step in writing is reading. While I think there are few absolutes when it comes to writing, this is one that I feel applies across the board. While you can learn from everything you read, if there is a specific style or genre that calls out to you as a writer, immerse yourself in it. If you want to write science fiction adventure stories, read them. If your aim is to publish science fiction novels, read the bestsellers. Even if you don’t like the bestsellers those are the books that are making money. It’s not being a sellout to analyze and learn what is making sales. Some of that is timing, marketing, etc, but it doesn’t hurt to be aware of what sells. Then, when you sit down to write, it is a conscious decision to write in that vein or not. If you are unaware, you simply don’t know if what you want to write is similar to what the bestsellers are writing.
Write Every Day and Keep it Organized
Journal, brainstorm, write a scene, write out the idea for a scene, whatever you have to do, GET WORDS ON THE PAGE. Yes, you should have a goal in mind and set deadlines, and get better at your craft, but if we can get over that first step of making writing a habit, all the other parts will come more easily.
And while you are writing all this stuff, keep it organized. Give yourself time to take all those scraps of character ideas, possible blog posts, a story beginning and organize them in a sensible manner where you can find what you need later. That way, when you are in the mode to actually get work done, you will be able to dive in faster and not lose your focus because you have to organize the mess.
Submit Your Work aka Ask to Get Paid
Isn’t this about writing advice, why so much talk about business and money? Well, I am assuming that you want to the time to do this, so the more you can get paid for the work, the more seriously you will take it. Also, you are going to get rejected. It will hurt, but the sooner you can learn to just accept that is how the game goes, the better. If you are lucky, some of those rejections will come with the reasons why.
Submitting your writing is asking for feedback. If they accept it, awesome, you’re doing well. If nobody accepts it, take a look at your submission, Did you follow the guidelines? Is there an error that you missed in the first paragraph? You can even totally sidestep the industry, but even if you self publish you are getting feedback. In that case it will be in the form of sales, reviews, and maybe even some offers. However, if you never put it out there, you will have no feedback. And since you are me, I know that you actually want your work to mean something to others, so look for all the feedback you can get. (But do always consider the source.)
That’s it for now, keep an eye out for part 2.