So the second part of this equation of becoming a writer is, guess what? Writing! Yup, I know you’re surprised, but if you want to be a writer you have to write. A lot.
Becoming-A-Writer Tip #3-B: write write write!
Now you can’t just mean to write, can’t just enjoy writing, can’t just piddle a bit every now and then. You have to write, a lot, every day. Maybe you don’t start out this way, maybe you start out small. But a professional athlete doesn’t conquer and win in his/her sport by training a few days a week when they feel like it. So if you want to be a serious writer, you have to get serious about training.
In order to become skilled at writing and produce a volume of work, you have to have the discipline to sit down and write regularly. One way to do this is to set a daily word goal for yourself to write a certain amount. You won’t always want to, you won’t always feel inspired, but you must write anyway. I would suggest having several projects in the works (I have a novel, a short story, and a blog), so that if you get tired of working on one story you can switch it up for a bit and then go back to it. Be careful of course to focus your time where it needs focus, but everyone needs a break now and again.
As you form the habit of writing every day, your skills will grow and you’ll find it easier to write more. You’ll find the words flow better, fit better, sound better, the more you do it.
If you need somewhere to start, I’d suggest looking around in your local area, through the paper or online searches, for writing contests. Find local writing groups in your area, they usually have information about local opportunities. Or you can go further out and just search for any contest anywhere, the possibilities are limitless. Read the guidelines and topic, and come up with a short story specifically for the contest. Who knows, you might win, and you’ll get good practice in the process.
Now, to make you all feel better, I’ll freely admit that this is a goal I haven’t yet reached. I work my “day job” 40 hours a week, and at the moment am working every other spare moment to get my wedding organized, plus a thousand little other things. I have hardly gotten to write at all this past month. Believe me, its driving me CRAZY. I can only imagine how crazy it will get when I start having kids.
There will be times like this. But you must not give up. Keep working, every day, to write. You must make time. You must carve out that precious resource and water your writing talent with it or your muse will never grow and never produce any fruit. You must make sacrifices. You must give up other things. That’s what it takes to become a writer.
At the moment I don’t have a daily word goal, but I do have a weekly goal to write one blog post and one chapter in my book each week. I haven’t been meeting that goal this month, mostly because of wedding planning and taxes, but I won’t give up. I have a novel critique group that I’m a part of that helps to motivate me on my novel writing (deadlines are helpful!).
Of course, to be become published, to become well known, to have a career in writing takes much more than just sitting down and writing every day. But you can never publish what you don’t write. Further, you can’t write what you need to without a goal, without focus, without hard work.
So now, before you get too excited about publishing, promoting, and book-signings, lets start with the basics and make sure that writing gets done, regularly. If you are a writer, I challenge you to make a goal. It can be words per day, words per week, or to finish a certain project within a certain amount of time. Whatever it is, have the goal fixed in your mind, ever with you. Plan ahead to make time for it, and keep track of your progress. Tell your friends about it, have someone keep you accountable. You can even post your goal here! I’d love to hear about where you are in your writing path and where you hope to be in the coming months and years. Voicing your insights, goals, dreams, and progress can be inspiring and helpful for others as well as yourself.
Your useful link for the week is like a playground for writers: a writer’s tools website called Writers Helping Writers. It has got TONS of fun and useful tools for writing, editing, character development, etc.
Check out my beginner Becoming-A-Writer Tips here:
#1: Take notes
#2: Know Your Market
#3 A: Read Read Read!
#3 B: Write Write Write!
My How to Advance Your Writing Career Series: