It’s something aspiring and successful authors hear all the time.
“Oh, you’re writing a book? I’ve always wanted to do that!”
Because you’ve gone one step further than merely wanting to write, because you are here, reading this, I’m going to tell you a secret. People who’ve never attempted to write before have no idea how HARD it is.
Before diving into the murky, novel writing waters, do yourself a favor and start with a short story.
Well, you can start with your first chapter, if you really feel that pull. But, if I could sit myself down at the table with a coffee (or wine, probably wine) four years ago, I would recommend starting with a short story.
- As a new writer, the chances of your novel getting published without having any other work to your name is limited.
- Literary magazines are a great platform to submit your short stories and test your writing chops.
- Short stories are easy to write and (can be) easy to sell.
- Writing short stories can help you learn how to keep your writing crisp and effective by providing you with a word limit so you can cut the fat–the extra words your readers WILL SKIP.
- If you receive positive feedback for one of your stories, you have the option of building the piece into a novel. What better way is there to test the market with potential ideas?
So, you’ve read If You Want to Write. Now all you have to do is . . .
(brace yourself for important, life-changing information)
What’s separating you from becoming the next James Cameron or Stephen King? According to them, nothing but a lot of effort.
“Talent is cheaper than table salt. What separates the talented individual from the successful one is a lot of hard work.” –Stephen King
“I don’t assume I’m brilliant – but I do assume that I’ll work harder than the other guys.” — James Cameron
But, while working hard might sounds simple, sometimes it isn’t.
First of all, you aren’t going to be earning money writing for quite some time. And, if you’re anything like the normal, functioning humans I know and love, you’re already pretty busy making some. Along with that pesky job, you probably have a social life, a few television shows you absolutely CANNOT miss, a plethora of good books lined up for a rainy day, an exercise regime, and access to heart warming videos of frolicking kittens on YouTube. If you’re like me, you also have three kids who need to be fed occasionally, a house that looks like a tornado hit it within minutes of said (lovely) kids walking in the door, and a spouse who would like you to look up from your computer from time to time for some attention.
But there is hope. If you’re serious about writing, you need to block off some time, the same time every day if possible, to write. Disconnect your internet if you have to. Close your office door. Wake up early in the morning . . . and write. Every single day.
Writing is a muscle. Nourish that muscle. Read. Exercise that muscle until your brain hurts. Write.
In my next post, I’m going to encourage you to do something that might feel very, very wrong. I’d like you to show your short story (or first chapter) to a group of real live human beings.
As a long time closet writer, I feel your pain. And because I feel your pain, I’m going to chuck you a link to my first published short story, Willy’s Boat. (I’ll show you mine if you show me yours.) Over the years, I worked hard to gain the necessary tools and confidence to write that little snippet and when I finished, I was pretty happy with the result. But, I’ve learned a lot since then. I know there are places the writing could improve. (Alright?) And, that’s okay. I published a story that isn’t perfect, but so what? Writing is about growth. Every piece you put out is like a snapshot of your ability at that time. Save those snapshots as you go! Congratulate yourself for learning, all ways, always.
In my next post, I want to show you how quickly you can learn from your mistakes with the help of a trusted critique partner. I’m going to post the first draft to the (now deleted)prologue of my novel, Old Souls. This is the first piece of my writing I ever showed ANYONE, and my partner ripped it to pieces.
So, tune in next week for a bloodbath.