Writing tips: Things to consider before you being a writing career. How do you know if you have what it takes to be a writer? An author recently asked if talent is enough to become a writer. There are some writers who have such an extraordinary gift with words that their talent is never in question. But, for most people, writing involves hard work, perseverance, consistency, deadlines, criticism, stubbornness, willingness to grown and learn, more rejection than sales, and a healthy dose of luck. Today’s writer must be versatile to survive in the market, any market. Editors quit, move, and leave the publisher. Publishers merge, discontinue lines, sell, and go under. Tie yourself to one house and sooner or later, you may be an orphaned writer.
Talent is simply the avenue by which creativity is expressed. The journey starts when you first pick up a pen or sit down at the computer and begin to write. First of all, write for yourself. Write what you like to read, write what you have to say, write what will burst from your brain (or heart or gut) if you don’t spill it first onto paper or the keyboard. None of this wastes your time. The more you write, the more you have to write, and the more practice you have devoted to your craft.
Practice, practice, practice. Einstein failed every subject in school except science and math. Michael Jordan was kicked off his high school basketball team because the coach thought he lacked talent. Behind every success is incredible hard work. Jennifer Crusie surveyed published romance authors and found it took an average of five years to sell the first manuscript.
If you write fiction, you can add to your repertoire by writing nonfiction. If you believe you are a story-teller with hundreds of characters and plots running around your head, why should you write nonfiction? Nonfiction is easier to sell and pays better. There are significantly more markets that pay and receiving checks makes the other rejection slips easier to take. In nonfiction, you can rewrite and resell. One article can generate others and continue bringing in money for months and years. Selling nonfiction makes you a writer. Without sales, you must have a lot of self-confidence, stubbornness, dedication and perseverance to keep plugging away at the keyboard and call yourself a writer.
Nonfiction is an easier route to publication and a quicker one as well. Write a newspaper article and see it in print in a few days or weeks; write a magazine article and it may be published in a few months; write a nonfiction book and it can be on store shelves in a few months. There’s nothing like seeing your name in print or on-line that validates the time and effort. Writing nonfiction forces you to develop good writing habits. You must meet deadlines even when you don’t feel creative. Writing nonfiction forces you to develop good organizational skills and research skills. Research pays off in both fiction and nonfiction work. You can use those facts, those settings, and those true stories to develop wonderful fictional events, people and places.
Writing nonfiction forces you outside your fiction-writer’s shell. You must deal with people, places, events, information and opinions in a different way than fiction and this enriches your story characters, settings and plots.
Whether you write fiction or nonfiction, resolve today to never stop the journey down that road toward publication.