It’s really funny my publisher asked me to write this post for the blog hop to celebrate the release of my second book, Under the Same Sun. It makes me sound like a pro, a writing veteran, when this is really only the second book I’ve ever written. But it’s also the second that a publisher accepted, and so I guess I do know a bit by now.
Ten things you should know before you decide you want to be a writer.
This is really tough. I’m not one for reading lists, or books of writing How To’s. I just figured it out along the way. Consequently, these are very personal tips. Take them that way, please.
1. Enjoy what you do.
Which means, if you don’t love spending hours at the typewriter, computer, or whatever your medium is, don’t even start. You have to be willing and ready to spend untold hours writing, rewriting, and writing some more.
2. Be patient.
No book has ever been written overnight. You’re in for a long haul. This may take a year, or more. Oh, and since we’re on it: prepare to write more than one book. Publishers want authors, not single books.
3. Allow your story to end.
This may sound trivial, but in fact it’s crucial, and a stumbling block for many writers. You need to find an ending to your story, and let go of it. You need to decide to end the writing and declare your novel finished at some point.
You know what I said in Tip #3? Well, your novel is not finished just because you have an ending. When you’ve written a first draft, it’s just that: a draft. Now the real writing begins. Edit until your eyes bleed and your fingers break off. And by this I mean: step away from your finished draft, let it sit for a couple of weeks, and come back with a rested mind and fresh eyes. You will see what needs to be changed.
5. Write for yourself.
Yes. I think this is a very important one. Writing should be an indulgence, the chocolate fountain of your life (if you’re into chocolate), the huge treat you can’t wait to get back to. The alternate world in your head, the one you’re pinning down: that’s what it should be. If you decide to start writing because you want to start a new career—forget it. You can only do this
with passion. Because you love it (see Tip #1) and you have to love what you write. If it pleases you, if it’s something you would pick out to read for yourself, then it should also please others when they read it.
There isn’t one. Or rather, your workspace is everywhere. The entire world is your workspace. If you’re a writer, you write all the time. Maybe not on “paper,” but certainly in your head.
I am firmly convinced this is the basis of all writing. If you can’t observe the world around you, you can’t write. Ask yourself this: where do stories come from? Where do characters and their mannerisms come from? Where did you see a setting just like the one you’re trying to capture, the one you want to use for the opening of your novel? The stories are all out there. You only have to see them.
8. Let Go of Your Fear of Failure, or Success.
When that moment comes, when you decide to start writing, don’t think about publishing, about royalty checks, about reviews in the New York Times, or if your novel will it the bestseller lists. Trust me; it’s a very, very long road. Just, you know, write.
9. Practice Summarizing.
First of all, I have to admit I really suck at this part. But knowing I suck at it makes it even more important for you to know. Practice for the moment someone asks you: “What’s your book
about?” Because, trust me, this moment will come, and probably sooner than you think, and then you’d better have a brilliant, three-sentence answer. The person asking you might just be that agent or publisher you wanted to meet all along. So: practice. Talk about your book with confidence, and not like me, cringing, blushing, stammering, “Oh, you know . . . it’s a kind of love story . . .” I’m kidding. I do talk about my books, at length and with confidence—at least in my dreams.
10. Enjoy what you do. (See Tip #1)
Because, otherwise it’s an incredible waste of time.