On Becoming a Writer (Part Two)

hand holding red pen on manuscript pagesHey, SE Readers. Joan here today with the second part of my post On Becoming a Writer. If you haven’t read the first part, you can do so by clicking here.

If you follow or read this blog, there is a reason. Everyone here, both authors and readers, have a common goal. Either you are, or you want to become a writer. Some of you are just beginning,  while others are published authors multiple books. Some even have the privilege of being on a best-selling author list.

I’ve written this post more for those who are in the beginning stages, but I hope everyone can glean something useful from my words.

Becoming a published author is possible. In fact, with today’s self-publishing methods and electronic format options, it’s easier than ever. With any dream, it takes hard work to achieve your goals. And writing is hard work.

In the last post, I shared five ways not to become a writer. Today, I’ve taken those negatives and turned them into positives as I share ideas to help you achieve your goal.

  • It goes without saying the first step is to write. Even if you begin with a journal, write something. Choose your schedule. Whether you write every day, is up to you, but you need to practice, practice, practice. IMO, the more often you write, the better, but we all have other responsibilities—family, full-time jobs, taking care of a house, etc. Only you can decide what works best for you.
  • Share your writing. We all have fears—fear of rejection, self-doubt, competition. You need to get over them. It’s a given that if you submit your work to a traditional publisher or magazine, you will have rejections. Getting a rejection slip is discouraging, but don’t let it stop you from continuing. If you never submit any writing, you’ll never become a published author. Self-publishing? You still have to “submit” it to an online service such as Amazon, B&N, or Kobo. Regarding those rejection slips? I once heard an author say, “When I receive a rejection slip from one publication, I take it to mean someone else needs my story.” That’s a great attitude to have!
  • Keep those terrible first drafts. One of my first writing instructors advised me never to throw away any piece of writing. First drafts are awful, but keep unused ones in a separate file. Weeks, months, even years later, you might find a place for them. While I seriously doubt I would have ever done anything with that first manuscript I wrote at age seventeen, it would be nice to look back and see how far I’ve become. (No doubt, I would have more than a few laughs.) Take that first draft, rewrite it, edit, and edit some more.
  • Take advice. Join a critique group or find some trusted critique partners. We are too close to our own work to be objective. Each time I think I’m sending a polished piece of writing to my critique partners, I’m surprised to see what mistakes they catch. They also provide valuable advice on how to make a manuscript better, point out gaps, and tell me when I’ve written something that’s hard to understand. Suggestions received from others isn’t personal. They are to help you grow as an author. You don’t have to accept all recommendations but listen carefully to the advice of editors and experienced writers.
  • Get social. As I pointed out in part one, many writers are introverts. However, the days of being able to write in anonymity are over if you want to sell any books. Get connected with others through social media. Choose your platform, but don’t spread yourself too thin. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram are a few of the many choices we have. Start a blog. Read, follow, and comment on other blogs. Build relationships.

Time for your suggestions. What tips would you share for those who are beginning their writing journey?

42 thoughts on “On Becoming a Writer (Part Two)

  1. Pingback: Author Inspiration and This Week’s Writing Links – Staci Troilo

  2. All good tips, Joan. I use my critique group and friends to help polish my manuscript. It amazes me how many tips and corrections my partners find even when I think I nailed it.

    Of note, a proofreader and an editor are two different professions. A proofreader typically corrects grammar, spelling, punctuation, and language mistakes. An editor expounds on what the proofread does to improve the overall quality of your writing, eg. character dialogue, plot holes, character expression, character flaws, etc.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. What an encouraging post, Joan. I loved what you said about rejection slips. And, trying for a traditional publisher for my fiction series, I have received plenty of them. But, as you say, the stories weren’t meant for them. There is someone out there will like them and I’ll keep trying!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Love the post today. My only real secret is a work ethic. I show up, lace on my boots, and go to work. I don’t have the luxury of a dedicated hour each day, so I tend to hit it hard when the time shows up. It kind of pales in comparison to your advice, but it’s an important part of the process.

    Liked by 2 people

    • On the contrary. I think you have a great idea!. Setting aside a time to write doesn’t necessarily mean we write. We still have to dig in and put things on paper (or rather the computer screen).

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Great tips, Joan. I love the part about reframing a rejection letter.

    I, like you, have also found that I submit to my crit partners what I think is clean only to get back a bunch of changes. We are too close to our work to see our mistakes. But my partners are awesome and catch loads of stuff for me. My editor does, too. Maybe that’s the tip I want to share: No matter how many drafts, no matter how many critique partners and beta readers, a document should undergo a final proofreading edit.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Very encouraging words, Joan! I absolutely agree about having critique partners or joining a critique group. And as Harmony said, having a professional editor or proofreader is so important. It’s easy to get discouraged in this business between handling rejection and sometimes dealing with negative reviews on published works. Writers need a thick skin. It’s great that there is such a strong writing community online where authors can interact and experience support.

    In addition to what you mentioned above, my other advice for starting writers is to read as much as you can, particularly in your genre. It’s amazing how much you absorb just by reading.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Great advice, Joan. I would say, always, always, always have someone edit your manuscript for you. If you can’t manage that, at the very least, get it proofread by eyes other than yours. As you say, you’re too close to your own work to see it. Never publish a book that hasn’t been looked over by someone who knows what they’re doing. I’ve seen some absolute gems of books spoilt by lack of editing or proofreading, and that strikes me as such a shame. Thanks for this, Joan. Reblogged on: https://harmonykent.co.uk/on-becoming-a-writer-part-two/

    Liked by 2 people

    • A good editor is a must! Or like you say, at least a proofreader. Even so, I’ve caught mistakes in traditionally published books by one of the big five publishers. It happens, but the more people that can read and proofread, the better. Thanks for reblogging.

      Liked by 2 people

  8. More good advice Joan:) I have never gone back and read an old first draft, but I still have them all. Sharing your work is definitely the hardest part but with such a high pay out.

    Liked by 3 people

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