Have you always wanted to be a writer but don’t feel like you have the time, let alone the brain space? Or maybe you have a plastic container full of notebooks or a hard drive filled with words you’ve feverishly typed, knowing you had to get the words out somehow.
But now what?
Here are a few steps to get you started on that journey towards the stars, to reach your writing dreams.
1. Make sure you’re writing for the right reasons.
The first reason you should be writing is because you want to. Because it’s your dream—you’ve always known you have these amazing things stored in your heart that you want to share with the world.
Fame and fortune may never come, and you need to be okay with that. But realize that no matter what you write, if you do want to make a profit eventually, it will take some monetary investment. This could be in the form of editors, workshops, or conferences to hone your craft if you’re pursuing traditional publishing, or in the production cost of your book if you’re going indie (self-publishing).
Just don’t go off and hand five thousand dollars to a vanity press. Please.
2. Set your goals
Of course, your first goal is, “To write!!!” (I imagine you standing on your chair with your fist high in the air and a wild glint in your eye brought upon by too much coffee).
But what do you want to write—specifically? How many books, of what genres? Do you want to make a profit with it/them? When do you want to be finished with your first series? Would you like to get something, anything published?
Once you’ve locked in your goals with specifics, you can begin to figure out how to reach them. For writing goals, you can estimate how long your work will take to complete by finding out the average length of books within its genre. Then determine when you’d like to be finished with your goal, and break down the word count based upon how much time you have.
For example, Jamie’s next goal is to write a 75,000-word fantasy novel, and she’s given herself 4 months to complete it. So if she writes 4 days every week, she has about 16 work days per month, and therefore 64 total work days available. This means she has to write about 1,172 words per day to meet her goal.
That doesn’t seem so intimidating any more, does it? For more tips and tricks about goal setting, check out The Busy Mom’s Guide to Writing.
3. Read (or listen) to craft books on writing
Every writer can improve, no matter how advanced. Few people are born knowing how to craft that perfect scene. We definitely weren’t—it took Jamie 4 years to learn how to write something better than her toddler’s adventures on her keyboard.
Seek out a few writing books that look interesting to you and work on your craft. Many books, like The Emotion Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi, the classic Elements of Style by E.B. White, and The Writer’s Lexicon by Kathy Steinemann can be helpful for any writer, while The Romance Writer’s Phrase Book and Writing Fantasy Heroes by Alex Bledsoe and Orson Scott Card are more genre-specific. If you’re at a loss for what to read next, ask other authors what books helped them!
4. Get involved in a community
Find a local group of writers to swap stories with. Or join an amazing online community like Scribophile, which is a world-wide critique group, or a Facebook group such as Clean Indie Reads or 20Booksto50K. Many writers are eager to help newbies with stars in their eyes, so keep asking—you’re sure to get some answers.
5. Decide if you want to go indie or traditional
A good portion of writers are deciding to jump on the indie bandwagon for many reasons, but which option is best for you: self-publishing or signing with a traditional publisher? Weigh the pros and cons, and go for the choice that seems right. You can always change your mind later.
But whatever you choose, do your research. Don’t waste your time releasing a half-finished book into the world only to receive bad reviews because you didn’t do your best. And if you decide to submit your book to traditional publishers, make sure you’ve done your homework and present the best query letter and manuscript possible.
For tips on finding a literary agent and submitting to traditional publishers, check out chapter 10 of The Busy Mom’s Guide to Writing. Or if you’re considering indie publishing but don’t know where to start, never fear! The Busy Mom’s Guide to Indie Publishing was written just for people like you.