Top Ten Ways to become a Writer
Having taken the leap of faith into the world of writing it is important to share some of the things that seem to be important. There are lots of folks out there currently pursuing the “I want to be a writer” dream. In the current state of the world, many find employment either absent or shaky which encourages many to toss it all off to pursue the writing dream. It is an attractive ideal to share this dream with others. “I work from home, I am a writer.” It is an easily discouraging notion to support when the car insurance comes due and you have no money. Here are some realities of “being a writer.”
1. Find out whether or not you really are a writer. Can you sit at a desk or a keyboard for hours and generate thousands of words in a coherent string? Can you develop original thought on paper and do so in a manner in which others will wish to read? Has anyone of note told you that you have a talent for writing and you should pursue the art? These and many other questions arise when asking or judging yourself fit for the vocation. A good suggestion is to publish a blog and write what you like and see how many people want to read it. There are also fan reading sites that will give you, equally, feedback on your proficiency and guidance in your blunders. A simple search engine query will take you where you want, or do not, want to go.
2. WRITE! It is a useless exercise to even attempt to want the benefits of being a writer if you are not writing. Every day. You must write every day and night if possible. Something on paper everyday even if it is your grocery list. The more one writes the better they get at it. Take a writing class, look up famous authors and read how they got started. Write comments on blogs and webpages that allow it. Get on Facebook and tell everyone “What’s on your mind” and do it often. Do not worry about the content at first, unless it is something you need to write. Do whatever it takes to write every single day. Go out of your house with a notepad and write ideas down as you go about your day. Fill the voice recorder on your phone with ideas, and when you get home, write about your ideas. Go out and buy The Artist's Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity by Julia Cameron and follow the instructions. These and a million other ideas can get you to the place you want, but not until you write, write, write!
3. READ! At a very early age I was fortunate enough to have a cousin that was a comic book collector and allowed me to read his collection. It gave me the glimpse into the world that I became enamored of. The thing I found enchanting about those old comics was not the pictures, but the words. I was too young to read them, but that did not stop me from being mesmerized. I went from there to teaching myself how to read, which created a lifelong fascination with stories. In order to string words on a page that are intelligible, interesting, and important I must have access to the right words. I can never know the right words unless I learn them, which means that I must read them in the first place. I am not particular about what I read as long as I am reading. I have a tendency to prefer fiction in that it has much to teach me about both writing as well as life. Rudyard Kipling once shared; “If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.” I subscribe to and receive a number or “Word of the Day” entries and have discovered a delightful benefit in that words I am not aware of have given me muse for many of my current essays and blog posts. There are also innumerable ways to discover the wonders of reading. My personal recommendation is the first book I ever read, “The Call of the Wild” by Jack London. My personal instruction to you, read, read, read!
4. Turn off the television. There are many excuses or rationalizations for not having the time or inspiration to write. My first suggestion is to turn the television off. There is much information given out on television, some good, some great, most gloomy. I find it distracting to have it on, even the news channels because it can drive your content in ways that it does not need to be transported. Inspiration is a precious gift that writers are given and it needs to be pure, and not influenced by external stimuli. Listening to music or humming to oneself is a better way to drowned out the other things that can interrupt the process.
5. Don’t force it. Sometimes it is just not there. Sitting down to write is what we do as writers, and sometimes the batteries have to be recharged in order to get to the place you wish with a piece of writing. This might mean getting away from the page and watching and listening for that thing that will drive you back to the page. Sometimes an idea is just not feasible. I have a blog, http://tlloydreilly.wordpress.com/ where I focus on alliteration as a method of disseminating opinions, ideas and messages I deem important. I am an alliteration aficionado and love to write in prose that has similar soothing sounds. I pick random words that sound the same and endeavor to, using the words as a title, to build a piece around them. My wish is to go through the alphabet, but have determined that it is more work than originally considered. It is frustrating to realize that what seemed to be a grand idea is actually much more challenging when you put fingers to the keyboard. If you find creativeness lacking, go out and get some. You don’t have writers block, you just need to go get a hamburger.
6. Do force it. At times it seems as if the world is conspiring to keep you away from the work. In me I find that is manifests by way of my typing. I find times that no matter how hard I try, my fingers do not find the right keys. I write at the keyboard and have the disability of never having been taught to type. As such I have, through the use of typing software, and much practice evolved from the tried and true “Hunt and peck” method to what I call “Writing at the speed of light.” Not literally but the true meaning is that I can get as many as sixty words a minute, but it must be from my mind and not another piece of paper. If I am creating, I am reasonably as quick as the muse within me. At other times, when I am working for pay in a freelance job, I find that my fingers are challenged making things difficult. That is all right as long as you do not let whatever it is that is giving you issue to drive you away from the page. Everyone experiences time when things just do not work for them. The trick is to learn when those times are and control them when it is necessary to get something written.
7. Get a computer. This is not a suggestion. Be it a laptop, notebook, IPad, desktop, or super smart phone, you need a computer! Now!
8. Learn how to cut and paste. Word processing skills are not negotiable. The day when a writer can fill volume after volume of notebooks with musings, and delightful anecdotes are over. Unless that is, you do not want anyone to read your work. In this cyber day and age a writer must be able to deliver material ready to read and in whatever format required. With the advent of E-books, Kindles, Nooks, and viral websites there is too much of your work to be lost if you leave it to others to present your written blood, sweat, and tears to the public.
9. There are just so many ideas. I was doing a project for a client the other day and had to do some research. I went into my trusty Research God (Google) and looked up what I needed. I came upon an article that seemed as if it might be just what the doctor ordered. It was informative, insightful and interesting. I read the entire article and got to the authors name before my metaphorical bubble was burst. I recognized the prose in a most disturbing way. It looked so familiar that I went into my past work and found the very same article, written by me, which had been penned several years ago prior to my developing any reasonable knowledge about publishing and freelance writing. The name that disturbed me so much was not really anyone I knew; it was just that it was not my (the real author) name. I do not remember getting paid for the article, in fact, I know I did not get paid for the article. Word to the wise, make sure you know where your work is going and do not be upset when the same material appears somewhere unexpectedly. There are just so many ways to say the same thing.
10. Fortitudine et Prudentia. In conclusion (well not really, you’ll read me again) all I can leave you with is the motto of my Ancient Irish family Fortitudine et Prudentia. This means fortitude and prudence which can be simply translated into go after your dream and never give in. There is a myth about our coat of arms that states that a number of sons of one of the early Reilly kings were given a boat race to participate in with the prize going to the winner being the choicest piece of land in Ireland. One of the younger brothers, when he could see that he was not going to win, cut his hand off and threw it ahead of the lead boat and onto the shore, thereby winning the race. While gruesome in aspect it is an example of the determination and drive that it takes to succeed. The same can be said about writing (absent the severed hand of course). Write…no matter what tries to get in the way… and…never quit!
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