So You Want to be a Writer

I received a reply to one of my Tweets. “@DeanneDurrett, follow me back, I want to ask about writing.” I visited his Twitter page and found a young man who wants to be a writer. We exchanged a few tweets about writing. But there is so much to tell a young aspiring writer. Tweets of less than 140 spaces are not enough to even begin. So, @Leorachadian, this is for you. I’m passing on some advice I received when I was a young woman who wanted to be a writer.

1. You have to read to learn to write. Read. Read. Read.

2. You have to write to learn to write. Write. Write. Write. (I was told I would have to write a million words before I could expect to be published, so I started writing my million words.)

3. Learn your craft. Learn grammar and put it in practice. Every aspect of it. Spelling, punctuation, and the rules of grammar.

4. In the beginning, write what you know. Later you can learn what you want to write.

5. Writing is rewriting. To create a publishable piece requires many revisions. Keep revising until you reach the point where you can’t find anything to change that would make your writing better.

6. Join a critique group. Listen and learn from the critiques. Some criticism of your work will hurt. Develop a thick skin. Only make changes when the change will make your work better. Make sure your work remains your work. All changes should be your decision.

7. If you are writing fiction, learn the basics of creating plot, characters, dialogue, scenery, and environment. Do your research, be sure your facts are correct.

8. If you choose to write non-fiction. Learn the elements of an article. Do your research. Make sure your sources are reliable and you writing is in your words but remains true to the source.

9. Wait to submit your work to an editor until you’re sure it’s ready. As near perfect as you can make it. (It won’t be perfect in any editor’s eyes, even one that accepts it.)

10. For most, not all, the road to publication is a long journey with steep hills, sharp curves, and some places where the bridge has been washed out. FOLLOW YOUR DREAM. The want-a-be writers who get published are the ones who don’t quit. If you want it bad enough, work hard enough, and overcome discouragement, you’ll reach your goal.


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