I recently gave some advice to an aspiring writer. I felt a little funny prescribing my beliefs to her. Who am I to say what you must do to become a writer? And yet, there are certain things I know many other writers believe in, things my writing mentors have taught me. So while the following are meant to be credos, they might not work for everyone.
Regardless, here are five tips for aspiring writers.
- Read. Read. Read. And read some more.
Study how the writing works in pieces or books you like. Conversely, when reading writing you hate, study why that is. My daughter wants to be a pro soccer player. She works on her skills on the field by playing, and off the field by studying every move in the World Cup. It’s the same concept.
- Revise. Revise. Revise. And revise some more.
Don’t get married to your early drafts. Put them in a drawer for awhile, and approach them with fresh eyes. That personal essay you wrote, the one you were so proud of, might just need an overhaul. Don’t be afraid of that. You need to practice your craft to get better at it.
- Submit smart.
When submitting for publication, study the writer’s guidelines and adhere to them. Make sure your work fits with the publication’s aesthetic.
- Write as much as you can.
This can mean a daily schedule of three to six hours, or it can mean writing three times a week for thirty minutes each. You know what you can do. It really is like the Nike slogan.
- Support yourself as a writer.
What do you need to get going? A pretty pen? A new Moleskine journal? A writing class? Perhaps it is a good, inspiring, how-to book that will help you. Maybe it is gathering a couple of writing friends to sit at a coffee shop and do writing prompts with. I’ve done all of these things and I allow myself to have what I need, knowing that it changes over time.
And here’s one more tip. Pay it forward. Put goodness into the world with your written words and your actions. Help other writers. You should naturally want to do this anyway, but the cool thing is if you do, it’ll come back to you tenfold.