Should you quit your job to pursue it or give up on your dream because you think you'll never be a New York Times Bestseller? I believe the answer to that lies somewhere in between.
We've all heard the saying that everyone has a book in them. I believe this to be true , but not everyone has a desire to write a book. Before we read books on writing or even take classes on writing, there are usually some pretty strong character traits of authors that overshadow even the mechanics of writing. When you think of authors, they're usually thinking about their book constantly -- especially if there in the process of finishing it. What would their characters do in this situation? And even when not writing, they're observing. And then when the story is complete, what next? The book -- their baby -- is revised and then re-revised over and over. Onlookers may think it's a fanatical time-consuming activity with no guarantees. But it's the passion -- the process -- that drives the pen or the tapping on a keyboard.
What kind of writer are you?
Do you like to write informative articles, short stories, non-fiction or fiction? Maybe a mix. In writing fiction, it seems there are two kinds of writers: Those who prepare an outline -- decide exactly who their characters are, what their personalities are and where the story will take place -- and then there are those who write, in the moment, straight from their head/heart. But it varies for each author and the way they're inspired may differ from one project to another.
If you have this desire to write, what steps can you take to improve your writing skills? Maybe you have the passion for it, but now you need to make sure that the fervent writer has the mechanical know-how to tweak and express the story in the most concise, yet engaging, way.
- Be Committed. Write in whatever way you're motivated -- whether by an outline or at-the-moment -- but commit to consistently spend some time to write. This is the first step. If we want to improve our skills, we need something to start with. Pick a time -- an hour at night -- turn off the television, the phone and just do it.
- Review your Basic Writing Skills. You can do this by pulling out your old books from English class or buying books on writing. There are numerous books out there on writing and the mechanics of it. There are also books on specific writing genres -- writing for fiction etc.
- Take a Class. Community colleges often offer creative writing courses. This can also be used to help motivate and sharpen your skills.
- Join a Writing Group. This may not be for everyone. Some prefer to work on their own and then have their editors review it. But a writing group can provide support and feedback and is a valuable tool for many.
So were in a mode now. We’ve refreshed our skills, maybe taken a class and we write an hour or two a day. We're happily writing away, but we wonder how long it will take to finish. This varies for everyone. Some it may take months and others a number of years. It took me about 6 months to write my first book, but much longer to then revise and really learn the techniques of writing. From pen to actual book, it took me about 5 years. The key is to keep persevering. It's easy to give up but if you have something to say, don't stop now.
Now my final point: Is writing a career or a hobby for you? This can be the kicker. If we're writing to be the next bestseller, motivation may fall away. It's tough to get noticed -- after all we write to express and hopefully be heard. If it's a hobby, perhaps it's more personal. Nobody is telling us what to write and we don’t even have to be heard. Nor is it the sole financial source that puts food on our table. I'm somewhere in between. Bottom line, when it's a hobby there's far less pressure, but it's also perhaps harder to stay motivated. Find your happy medium and enjoy the journey.