I try to keep my author status under wraps. I do very few book signings and I promote mostly through social media. But even within social media, I try to keep my personal stuff separate from my professional. I don’t really like to talk about being a writer, mostly because I don’t feel I do the writing thing all that well. I don’t feel like a writer, if that makes sense. But sometimes, when people find out I am an author, they want to know how they, too, can become writers. Which leads me to…
Big Writer Question #2: How Can I Become a Writer?
Here’s the deal. It’s the simplest thing in the world to do, but the hardest to accomplish. To become a writer, you must write. Every day. Even when you don’t know what you’re writing, or if you are doing well. I’m not being facetious when I say this, because it’s true. Writing is hard work, and it’s labor that you must go through if you’re going to write anything of value. Truman Capote once mentioned how the French writer/genius Colette’s hands looked, because, as he put it, true writing is manual labor.
Capote was right. Be prepared to have ugly hands once you take up writing. Mine look awful, even when manicured.
Now, you must write by writing. I think a lot of the fear people face is they don’t know how to get started. Every person who’s come to me with this question says the same thing: “I have this story in my mind.” Or “I have a million stories up here.” And they tap their heads. Well, that’s all well and good. But to write, you must write. You cannot leave the story locked in your head. As my good friend and writing partner Catherine Gayle once told me, “You cannot edit an empty page. Now get to work.”
So get to work. If you truly want to become a writer, you have to do the work of it. The only difference between you and me is that I did the heavy lifting of becoming an author. I had to learn just like you learn anything of value. I joined a critique group. I bought the Book in a Month book and followed all the exercises for both my first and second novels. I researched the market and agencies. I received rejections from agents and publishers alike until my manuscript found a home.
Oh yeah, and I wrote. A little a day, every day.
If you need a kick in the bum to get started, you could consider joining NaNoWriMo in November. Sometimes it helps to have a support system and a finite goal, and NaNoWriMo supplies both. You’ve got two weeks to prepare and a month starting November 1st. Just give it a try! If it doesn’t work, then at least you gave it a go.
Write to me and let me know how it’s going. I want to hear from everyone about how you fared!