If you want to write, then write—and don’t let anyone tell you you’re wasting your time. As William Faulkner once said, “Get it down. Take chances. It may be bad, but it’s the only way you can do anything really good.” Talking about writing a book “someday” won’t get it done. You have to put pen or pencil to paper, or fingers to a keyboard, in order to turn your dreams, your fantasies into stories. Remember, you don’t have to try to attempt to publish everything you write—and probably shouldn’t. You don’t even have to show it to anybody. But if you believe there’s a writer inside you, you have to start writing.
The act of writing can be cathartic, it can be comforting, it can be entertaining, and at times it can be downright fun. It can also be really frustrating and a lot of hard work—don’t let anyone tell you differently—but finally finishing up a story can be a kick, and when you do get something published and decide to share it with the world, I can tell you there’s nothing quite like logging into Kindle Direct Publishing to check your monthly report and learning someone in Germany or Great Britain or even Japan has bought your e-book.
Do learn to write well, if you don’t already. Not writing well shouldn’t keep you from writing stories, but I have edited a number of books by writers who are not proficient it their craft, and the unfortunate fact is, it doesn’t matter how good your story is, if you can’t communicate that story to readers, because the basics of grammar, syntax, and punctuation get in the way. Take an online course through a local community college, work with a tutor, but learn your craft well. It will save you a lot of headaches—and dollars—in the long run.
Ask people you trust to read your work and give you honest feedback—and be open-minded enough to listen to what they have to say. You don’t necessarily have to make the changes they suggest, but you should at least listen, because even rejecting a suggestion from a reader can teach you something about your writing. Do find a good proof reader. Even best-selling authors make mistakes—which I find in every book I read—but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to make our manuscripts as perfect as possible. Be willing to put down a manuscript for days or even weeks then pick it back up again. I can absolutely guarantee you will find something—a typo in a word, a missing quotation mark, a misused comma—you didn’t see the last time you read it. Fresh eyes—even your own—find mistakes.
And finally, read, read, READ! I cannot emphasize this strongly enough. If you want to write Romance, read Romance. If you want to write Sci-fi, read Sci-fi. If your interest is in writing Mysteries and Thrillers, read Mysteries and Thrillers. It’s not that you want to read a specific genre in order to get ideas for your own stories—trust me, once you start writing, you won’t need other people’s ideas. Rather you need to read them in order to learn what your potential audience expects. People who read certain genres all the time expect certain things to happen in these stories, and if you don’t deliver, they won’t want to buy and read your work. It’s a simple as that. Don’t be afraid to try something different on occasion, but be aware that readers read what they read for a reason, and if you want to connect with them, you need to deliver.
Now you’ve read a lot about writing, so what are you waiting for! Sit down, and start writing!
Next week, I’ll be starting a new series on research strategies and tools for writers.