by Laura Michelle Thomas
Writing is an almost invisible art form. It’s not like being a painter where you can hang your work in a gallery or set up shop on a busy boardwalk on a sunny afternoon and dabble on your canvas while tourists watch you work. Writing is done alone, out of sight. No one sees how a work goes from a writer’s imagination to a magazine or bookstore shelf. It just does.
The illusion that books and published articles magically appear makes many people think writing must be easy, really easy. That’s a pleasant fiction, but reality is quite different. So if you are really keen on making money writing, here are ten tips to help get you from wannabe to professional writer, or maybe decide that this isn’t the art form for you.
#1 – Write Well. You can’t write well-enough. Study grammar. Know how to spell. Be interested in words. Pay attention in English class. Those language and style lessons are foundational.
#2 – Write Daily. If you find everyday writing difficult, maybe this isn’t the profession for you. You should be able to whip off written work at school and write emails and Facebook posts in a flash. All of this daily writing matters for building your communication skills. Do as much of it as you can. Take every opportunity. If your school or club has a newsletter or newspaper, you need to be writing for it.
#3 – Care About Stuff. If you are indifferent to the world and the people in it, your stories will be lifeless. Writers tend to have strong ideas and feelings about life and the human condition. These ideas and feelings give their work a theme and tone, the foundation of a publishable piece of writing.
#4 – Understand the Writing Process. First draft writing is radically different from editing and proofreading. Do you know the difference and what’s expected during each step? Find out.
#5 – Speak Out. Write letters to the editor of your favourite magazine or local newspaper. This will help you find your voice and strengthen you style.
#6 – Start Small. If you want to break through to print and sell you work, you need to constantly be creating original pieces of writing that you can sell. Start small with an article or short story. Going from nobody to famous novelist is a pipe dream.
#7 – Demand Perfection. Good enough isn’t good enough. If you want to impress an editor and get published, you need to show respect for yourself and the editor by submitting your best work. Never submit a first draft. Never. Revise. Proofread. Period.
#8 – Befriend Other Writers. Because this business is so hidden, you will increase you chances of success by hanging out with other writers. Non-writers have no idea what you are trying to do and will not be able to give you the support you need (until you teach them how).
#9 – Continue Your Education. No one comes out of the womb writing. You have to practice. You have to focus on getting better. Take courses. Work with a mentor. Write and get feedback.
#10 – Be Brave. If you are afraid to have your work published, you’re not ready. Realize that this is your world too and that your voice, your way of seeing the world, matters. If you just want to write for yourself or you family, that’s different. But if you have dreams of being a writer, you need to be bold. Share you work. Get as many publishing credentials under your belt as you can. Put your work out there. It’s safer than you think.