I’ve been an author for far less time than I’ve been an engineer. In that meager time though, I’ve been asked some pretty funny (NOT!) questions by people–friends, acquaintances, and strangers alike. One of the commonest has been, “You know, I’ve always wanted to write a book. Tell me how I should go about it.” For the sake of comparison, in my decades of being an engineer, no one (not a single person!) ever asked me, “Hey, I’ve always wanted to be an engineer. How do I get to be one?”
Well, this morning someone asked me again. And since I was looking for a blog topic to write about, I thought, why not do a “how to?” Here’s my top 10 tips on how you can be a writer.
- Start writing. Yes. You have to type those words on your computer or write them out on paper. That book you have in your head isn’t going to write itself. So, grab that paper, sit yourself down, and begin.
- Do it everyday. Begin with writing 100 words everyday. I know, it’s going to be hard. No one said it’s easy. But, creating a writing habit is important. Try to get to 500-1000 words written everyday. It’ll take you places.
- Learn the rules of grammar. Learn them very well. You want to be that genius writer who breaks all rules and still gets the Pulitzer? Well, you have to know the rules first to be able to break them successfully. So, go on, get learning.
- Learn to punctuate well. This goes hand in hand with tip #3 above. It’s very important that you learn where to place those commas, colons, and semicolons.
- Find a critic of your work. Not someone who is blinded by love or fear to tell you the truth. If you can, find a critique group. This is extremely important when you’re starting out.
- Prepare to hear honest, critical feedback. It is difficult to hear harsh things about your baby, but you need it to make your writing shine.
- Study the market. See where your book will fit in. See what audience you’re looking to cater to, find out what your audience likes to see in a book.
- Read books in your genre. I can’t stress this enough. Read every book that has been successful in your genre. Try to find out the commonalities between all successful books. Make sure your story meets most or many of those commonalities.
- Choose your path. In this digital age, publishing has changed and it keeps on evolving. The biggest choice for all authors now is whether to go the traditional route (submit your work to one of the publishing companies and keep on submitting until one of them agrees to publish it for you), or you go the indie route (you hire the right people and publish it yourself). No path is easy but people are usually cut out to be one sort of a person or the other (the starry-eyed, dependent, trusting kind or the control-freaks who want to be in charge of their destinies every step of the way). So, think about who you are, and choose.
- Finish your book and take it to publication. Don’t hold it back because you think it’s not good enough. Take it out there and let the market decide. That’s the only way you’ll learn to be better.
If you’ve successfully done all of the above and think you’d like to do it all over again, go do it again. And again. And again. Basically it’s–write, edit, submit/publish, and repeat.
And there! You’ve become a writer.