Perhaps, you have been jotting down snippets of thoughts and ideas onto scrap paper or maybe you have been writing little stories for years. However you started, you’ve decided that you want to write and you want to be published.
What do you do now?
- Set up an area in your home especially for writing. Somewhere peaceful and quiet, where you can think and be creative.
- Buy a computer with a decent word processing programme installed. Some people still like to write freehand but most publishers only accept typed manuscripts so why lessen your chances of being published by being in the minority group.
- Read everything you can put your hands on about the art of writing. Visit your local library, book shops and search the internet for up to date information.
- Think about joining a Writer’s Centre, Reader’s Group and Writers’ Message Boards on the internet as they usually have access to many useful resources and ideas.
- Subscribe to Writers’ Newsletters.
- Think about enrolling in a writing course or workshop. There are plenty available on a variety of subjects.
The Right Mindset
When you decide to write, you may encounter various obstacles. The biggest of these is often self-doubt. There is a lot of competition out there, so what makes you think you can make it when so many other haven’t. If we all thought like that, no one would ever get published. If you have the right mindset, the determination and a love for writing then you are on the right path. Believe in yourself and others will believe in you too.
If self-doubt plagues you then this is where a supportive family and friends can make the difference between completing that first special manuscript or consigning it to the wastepaper basket.
Rarely, will you be able to sit with other people who also write with a passion so it is important to realise that you have entered into a very lonely profession but this isn’t necessarily a problem. If you’re doing it properly, you won’t have time to feel isolated with all those characters inside your head and those plots waiting to be put down on paper. Besides, these days with the internet at most people’s fingertips, you’ll be surrounded by other people who know and care about what you’re going through whenever you feel the need.
Making Time to Write Each Day!
This is critical to every writer. You will need to write every day. It doesn’t matter if it’s during the day, in the middle of the night, on the bus or if you steal a few moments at work to jot something down but you must discipline yourself to write EVERY day. If it’s only to write fifty words or edit an existing manuscript. The more practice you get, the better.
When you do sit down to write forget about everything else for that short time. The housework can wait, take the telephone off the hook and get your spouse or kids to tend the garden for a change. It’s time for you to be creative. After a while, you will discover that a certain time of day works best for you. Try to keep that time free.
The First Draft to the Last
Your first draft doesn’t have to be good and it certainly doesn’t have to be perfect so don’t worry about spelling, style, and grammar just yet. Just write. Get it all down on paper (or on disk) and worry about the rest later.
Before you start editing your work, put it away for a while. A couple of weeks or even a month should be enough. Then start reading it through with a pen and pad beside you so you can make notes. Again, you’re not looking at spelling, style and grammar for the second draft either – you should be checking that the storyline, plots and main points are coming through as they should.
Have you included all the necessary information? Are your thoughts logical and orderly? Have you started your story at the LAST possible moment, the place where the character’s life is about to take a real dive towards trouble? Does it make sense or has it been contrived to make it convenient for you, the writer? Does the reader get to know the characters? Does the story move along at a nice pace or is it slow and boring?
The third draft is when you check the spelling, style and grammer. If you have pointless words in your story, delete them. Study your first page and make sure it catches the reader immediately. This is also the time when you should trim your story.
If you are an unpublished author then this is a very important point to remember. First novels should be between 80,000 and 120,000 words in length. Less than this and the reader feels unjustified in parting with their money to buy the book because they feel as if they are being ripped off. If you have more than 120,000 words, however, the publisher will look at you as a financial risk because they have to outlay more money to publish a book by an unknown author that may flop.
For the fourth draft you should print your work out. You’ll be surprised how many mistakes you’ll find as it’s much easier to see them on a printed page. Once this final revision has been completed, you will be ready to start looking for an agent or publisher.