Being a writer is the easiest job in the world. The stay-at-home author! The self-made, self-employed man-or-woman! All you have to do is think something interesting – and you think interesting things all the time – and type it up. Soon the wolves at your door asking for rent will change to fans offering to pay it! Your words are golden from start to finish, and when the publishers find out, your work will sell itself; all you have to do is sit back and
No. No, no, no… no.
Writing – a book, a story or even a long enough article – is hard. The ideas, the wording, the big picture story, finding an agent, finding a publisher and then writing the next thing, are all hard. And yet, we have to do it anyway. Getting good at writing a lot, and getting your foot in the door, are the hardest parts. But if you love to write and you love to be read, any steps to get there will be worth it.
I’ve been writing stories since I was 13 and in those 10 years, I’ve published one book. A book a decade has been far too slow. So I’d like to pass along the advice I only sort of took along the way. All the journalists, all the interviews with authors and screenwriters, and even the $7 writer’s self-help book I toted like a good luck charm, said a lot of the same things. Here’s what they said to do, and here’s where I didn’t do it.
~ Write All the Time. Make it a daily routine. Make it a habit. Do it as often as if you actually wanted to do it – because on some level you do. Treat it like you’re getting paid for it already – by the hour and on-commission – and just won’t get the paycheck for a while. One day you literally will. But first, you have to write with imagined deadlines and write until you’re better than you are.
The catch here is that you want to wait for inspiration to hit you, and the moment to be right. I did that, and mid-story it didn’t hit me for six months. I wrote nothing. There really is something great about stewing over a story in your head until it feels perfect. But sometimes that’s a feeling you’ll have to write without. Sometimes writing is all that can bring a good idea out.
~ Talk to the Pros. This may be the hard part. Whatever you’ve written, you’ll need to write a nice query – a cover letter – and send it to agents and publishers everywhere. They don’t like you yet; they don’t know you yet. But if you sound interesting, they’ll talk with you. You’ll do business. And lo and behold, young author: your name will be in print.
Or just publish to Kbuuk. Then you only have to do the first part.