Anyone can call themselves a writer. All you have to do is write – a story, an article, a journal, a novel, a poem.
But that is rather like being called a plumber because you sort out the central heating and replace washers. Or a dressmaker because you make your own clothes. Or a bricklayer because you built your own garage.
These are hobbies you enjoy. They aren’t your main source of income.
The difference between writers and the other examples is that people who write are usually passionate about what they do.
If you are one of these why not become a real writer who gets paid for their work? It gives great pleasure to answer “I’m a writer,” to the question “What do you do?”
It gives even greater pleasure to add “For a living.”
So what must you do to become a full time writer?
1. Get paid for your work.
I’m afraid that there are many people who are so anxious to see their work in print that they will write for nothing. There is only one acceptable reason for doing this and that is to build a portfolio of published material.
Unfortunately editors know which publications use such material and sadly some of these publications will print material which would not be of a standard to be paid for. If your work is good enough you will get published.
I operate with two guidelines. I only offer material for which payment will be made if it is accepted – even if it’s only a letter to a ‘Reader’s Letters’ page.
2. Never dispose of anything you write even if it’s been rejected.
It can be re-worked and represented to another publication or at another time. Maybe it can be incorporated into another piece. While you decide what to do it can safely sit on file in your computer ready to be summoned when you’ve got writer’s block or a spare moment. Sometimes just re-reading it will set you off on a more productive line of thought.
3. Write every day.
Set an achievable target for doing this. Even if it’s only an hour a day at first you must stick to it no matter what else happens. Choose your time of day. Get up earlier if necessary. Make it a habit so that you feel uncomfortable if you don’t do it.
4. Don’t give in to writer’s block.
There will be days when you sit down at your desk and your mind goes blank. Don’t sit there doing nothing or, even worse, decide to end the session and do something else. Just write anything. Even if it’s gibberish. Write about the fact that you can’t think of anything and how cross that makes you, etc.
Before you know it your writer’s block will have disappeared.
5. Start small.
A good place to start submitting work for publication is the letter page of magazines and newspapers who pay for the items they publish.
Warning! Don’t be tempted to present something you dashed off on the spur of the moment.
Prepare the items you submit to editors with as much care as you would if it was a short story or article. It is good practice for working on longer items and will sharpen your skills.
6. Study your market before you submit anything at all whether it is a letter, an article, a short story or a novel.
Show professionalism by choosing a suitable subject and style.
7. Edit, revise, rework and edit again until you are sure you’ve got it right.
Some writers study the market before they decide what to write about. When I’m writing short pieces, unless I’m working on a commissioned article or story, I prefer to write whatever is in my mind at the time.
Then I work on it so that it is suitable for whichever market I have chosen.
One piece of writing can often be adapted and edited to suit several different publications. But beware of the next point.
8. Never send the same article to more than one publication at a time.
You will end up in any editor’s black book if after publishing your piece of work it is then printed in a rival publication. Wait until your ms has been rejected before submitting it elsewhere. Before re-submitting it, re-read it. Especially take note of any comments the editor might have made. (They do sometimes do this.)
9. Do not alienate editors.
To most people that would seem to be pretty obvious but there are still tales of hopeful writers sending angry letters or making abusive phone calls when their submissions are rejected.
Remember that there are hundreds (at least) of hopeful authors sending in material. Don’t pester any editor for a decision for at least a couple of months, and then a polite enquiry by ‘phone, letter, or email is acceptable.
10. Never give up.
There are very few writers who were successful from the start. Keep a list of how many rejections the best authors had. Read it every time the heavy sound of a rejection landing on the mat depresses you.
Before long it won’t be that heavy thump, it will be an acceptance or a cheque. At last you’ll be on your way to being a real published writer.
(c) Theodora Cochrane
Source: Free Articles from ArticlesFactory.com
Theodora Cochrane has been a published author for many years. She writes using different pen names to maintain her privacy.
Articles on Writing