Any professional writer will tell you the foundation of success begins with putting your behind in the chair and writing. It’s that old adage: a writer writes.
And it’s true … once you see yourself as a writer.
At first thought, this may sound rather ridiculous. However, as with most roles we play in life (parent, driver, spouse, homeowner), the success we achieve is directly related to how we perceive ourselves in that role. If you struggle to see yourself living the writer’s life (with all the self-discipline, rejection, and uncertainty that comes with it), you’re going to have a far more difficult road to travel than if you have complete confidence as a writer.
So how does a beginning writer get there?
Here are some tips to keep in mind …
1. The Process
Every writer approaches his or her craft differently. In fact, while some aspects of a writing routine may be consistent, others may not. You may set aside a certain time of day for writing, but prefer to write on a computer some days or by longhand on other days. You may prefer to write in your office some days, or at the local coffee shop on others.
The point is this: you need to find your writing routine. It doesn’t matter when it is, where it is, or how it’s accomplished. It just needs to happen. And it needs to be comfortable enough that you look forward to doing it. So if writing in longhand on a park bench is distracting and difficult, find another approach.
2. It’s True – A Writer Writes
It doesn’t matter what form of writing you chose … novels, short stories, essays, blogs, articles … do the work. Don’t talk about writing. Don’t fantasize about being a great writer. Write. That’s all that matters … getting words on paper. The more you do it, the more comfortable it will become and the better you’ll get at it.
3. Submit What You Write
The sole purpose of writing is to communicate. If you hide your work in the bottom drawer of your desk and never send it out, you’ve effectively cut the lines of communication. It’s scary to submit your work. It’s much safer to share it with Aunt Trudy, who loves everything you do. But if you’re truly ready to call yourself a writer, then it’s time to send your work to someone who doesn’t know you, to someone who cares only if the story or the article will stand on its own.
Send your work out into the world to be discovered.
4. Learn From Rejection
You’re going to be rejected. Every writer faces rejection. Even a powerful, page-turning novel of intrigue can face rejection if it’s not in line with the goals of a publisher. So if you’re going to be rejected, take advantage and learn from the experience. If the editor offers nothing more than a standard rejection form, send your work to the next editor.
If the editor offers some advice about improving your work, honestly evaluate the comments. He didn’t have to say anything. The fact that he took the time to offer suggestions is a huge compliment. That doesn’t mean the suggestions are right, but it does mean they are worth paying attention to. If you keep encountering the same suggestions over and over, then you need to take heed and make some changes.
5. Be Persistent
Finished up a story or an article? Submitted it? What now?
Start the next project.
Don’t wait to hear from your editor, get busy. You want to be a writer … write. Never stop writing. Treat it as a business … the next product should already be in production.
These are the things writers do.
If you’re just starting out and you want to become a writer … do as a writer does.
It’s that easy.
And that hard.