- Books, Literature, and Writing
Find Writing Success With These Five Tips
In The Beginning
So, what is a writer? That may seem like a rather simple question to answer, but in reality it is a bit more complicated. Webster tells us, simply, that a writer is one who writes. Duh! Thanks for the help Mr. Webster!
Upon further inspection, we find another definition that says a writer is one who writes books or articles as an occupation. Okay, but I believe that’s a bit too narrowed, and I’ll be glad to tell you why. There are many wonderful writers out there who are superb craftsmen of the written word and they don’t get paid a penny for their work. Are they any less of a writer because they do not get paid? I have read the works of some well-paid writers and I would consider using their works as toilet paper.
Do you see the problem I’m having? If someone only writes in a journal, are they a writer? It seems to me that intent must have something to do with it if we are to define writer. It seems to me that the intent of a writer must be to improve their craft, and that the ultimate goal must be to eventually have one’s works read by others.
When I decided to become a full-time writer the process went something like this:
1. It’s a lovely day; I think I will become a writer
2. Sitting down at my computer, I began to write
3. I declared myself a writer
And that was that! Two years later I am getting paid for my writing. However, even before I decided to write full-time, I had written most of my first novel. According to my earlier definition, I had already become a writer before I formally declared myself as such.
The point being that if you want to be a writer then declare yourself a writer and then set about becoming a good one. And how do you do that?
Well, that’s the whole point of this article. The five tips mentioned in this article hopefully will serve as a guide, and will help you focus a bit as you undertake this new venture. Writing well, as defined earlier, is not easy. Anyone can sit down and write, and friends and relatives will pat them on the head and say nice job. Not everyone, however, can write well, so that complete strangers will do the patting atop the head.
Shall we begin?
Take This Poll
Do you consider yourself a writer?
Learn the Language!
I am speaking to those who write English now, but it applies to anyone, whether they write in Spanish, French or whatever. You need to learn the rules of your language and then write correctly.
Nothing will turn off a reader faster than grammatical errors! I really don’t want to sound like a snob, but that’s the truth! English is a tough language; many who speak English do not know all of the grammatical rules and their writing shows that very clearly. I believe that is inexcusable and ultimately it is a killer if you plan on ever doing something with your writing.
Review the rules of grammar; if there are some rules you do not understand then ask questions and learn. The number one tool of your craft is the written word; it is probably a good idea to learn to use that written word in a proper manner.
When I was teaching school I would tell my students that they can’t write the way they talk, because most of us talk gutter English. Unless your intent is to write gutter English as part of your story, it has no place in proper writing.
I have written at length about the horrors of the Catholic school system, which I attended, but one thing I will always say about those nuns is that they made us learn. I diagramed sentences until I thought my arm would fall off, but fifty years later I still remember those basic rules. If you are going to write in English then learn proper English!
Learn The Language
- Who vs. Whom - Grammar Errors
Confused about who and whom? Have no fear, Hubert will do some investigating for you. But first, he must eat some chocolate meringue pie.
Write About Things That Interest You
I have two lives as a writer. My first life is writing for customers, mostly SEO articles, and those articles pay the bills and they are BORING to write. My second life involves writing for a writer’s page called HubPages, and also writing for two blogs I maintain, as well as other novels I am working on. That writing is anything but BORING! That writing feeds my passion and allows me to become totally involved in the creative process.
Seriously, if all I did during the day was SEO articles, I would quit writing. It is nothing more than search-engine-friendly valium for the masses, and there is little enjoyment in it. However, when I write for the writer’s site, my heart soars and my creativity is engaged from the first word to the last, hours later.
I believe that in order to attain your best work and to improve as a writer, you must write about things that interest you. When you are energized about your writing, you will produce better writing, and the energy will show in your work.
The list of things I shouldn’t write about is a mile long. I have no knowledge of or interest in the legal profession. I honestly could care less about rugby or hibiscus, and the price of tea in China is a yawner for me as well. I could do research and write about those things, but my heart wouldn’t be in it and the article would appear stilted and lifeless.
Now, turn my attention to education, alcoholism, adoption, or living simple, and I’m all over those subjects like flies on doo-doo. I am passionate about them and it shows in my writing.
Get Serious About Writing
- Freelance Writing: It Really Is A Job!
Freelance writing takes a ton of work but with passion and determination it is possible to make a living.
Check out this article on the human connection
- Writing: Making A Human Connection
This writer talks about the reason why he writes, namely to reach his audience on a human level, to make a connection and share this thing called life.
Always Be Prepared for Inspiration
An idea forgotten is an idea someone else will write about. Count on it!
I carry a notebook around with me, and whenever an idea enters my brain it instantly goes down on a piece of paper for later reference. I simply can’t trust my memory.
Where do my ideas come from? Everywhere! I’m always amazed when people talk about writer’s block. I go for a walk, talk to people, read for awhile, and the ideas are practically jumping out of my mind and into that notebook. I think back to when I was a kid, or daydream about jobs I have had, and the ideas are flying around inside my gray matter. In fact, when I take a day off and go somewhere for some relaxation, my mind doesn’t relax and the ideas are always being tossed about. Thank God for my notebook and Post it notes!
Believe in Yourself
How many of us have doubted our writing abilities? During those quiet times when it is just us and our thoughts, how many times has the stinkin’ thinkin’ entered our brains, telling us that we are not good enough to make it as a writer?
Kick those thoughts to the curb immediately! A writer needs to have inner-fortitude and a devout belief in his/her abilities. Period! I have said many times that writing is a lonely profession. Many a day will pass without any encouragement coming your way. Those are the days when you need to strap on your big girl panties (or, as my dad liked to say, strap on some balls) and proceed with the belief that you are worthy of the title “writer.”
Spend a moment thinking about how many writers there are in the world. I would venture to guess the number is in the millions. Let’s face it, that is some serious competition. How will you ever make it? How can you ever expect to become known?
Well, yes, there are many, but consider this: you are the only you writing at this moment. You are unique and as such you are the most precious commodity in the world. There is no writer like you. There is no other out there who has your experiences, your emotions, your memories and your thought process. Once you learn to put all of that to work for you then your possibilities are unlimited.
You are one of a kind! You are a force to be reckoned with! You are…..YOU!
Market Yourself As If You Were a Precious Commodity
I have some good news and some bad news for you. First, the bad news: as stated earlier, there are millions of writers in the world and all of them are your competition.
Now for the good news: your destiny as a writer is in your hands. You have no boss! You have no back-stabbing co-workers who will do anything to climb over your corporate corpse. You have almost complete control over your future as a writer, and how many people in any line of work can say that? This is the challenge of a lifetime and now we’re going to find out if you are up for the challenge.
If you want to be known in the literary world then you need to learn marketing. You need to learn about social networks. You need to learn about SEO and backlinking. You need to learn about other inexpensive ways to market. You need to investigate self-publishing. You need to learn to market big time on a small time budget.
There have been thousands of books and articles written about how to self-promote as a writer. Most if not all of the suggestions are good ones but do you want to know why they don’t work for every writer? Simply because most writers get discouraged and give up.
Writing is not a sprint to the finish line 100 meters away. Writing is a marathon and the sooner you recognize that fact the better. As of this writing, this writer has one self-published novel and eight books on Kindle. I think I have sold, to date, a grand total of 100 books in two years. Hardly the stuff of legends! However, I am not in the least discouraged. On the contrary, I see it all as part of a larger plan. The more of my work that is out there the better my chances are of being discovered.
I spend eight to ten hours per day writing and marketing my writing. This is my business! I do not have the luxury of calling in sick or giving my work to a co-worker to handle. This is my passion and my livelihood and I’m dead serious about it. I am a corporation of only one and I take it every bit as seriously as any CEO of a major corporation.
This lady has interesting ideas worth listening to
I do not believe for a second that anyone can be a writer. Good writers have ability; great writers have a gift. There are people who, no matter how hard they try, will never be good writers. That’s just the way life is. I will never be an artist! I make stick figures look like abstract art, so the chances of me taking up art and making money from it are zero and none.
However, I can write, and that fact makes me a member of a fraternity with over a million other writers. Now that I am a member of that fraternity it is up to me to improve my craft, and that is what this article has been about.
I would add one more suggestion to the five listed above and that is to challenge yourself. Do not settle for the status quo because growth does not happen when complacency enters the picture. You must be willing to stretch yourself out and reach for new goals; otherwise your writing will become stagnant and so will you.
Harper Lee never wrote another book after her masterpiece “To Kill A Mockingbird.” When asked why she simply stated that she had said everything she wanted to say in that one book, so there was no reason to continue.
I have not said everything I want to say yet, so I think I’ll keep writing.
May the wind always be at your back, and may your passion for writing bring you success, no matter how you define success.
2012 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)