So you long to become an author. Good for you. The world is sorely in need of good writers. With an emphasis on good. Today, more than ever, it is easy to take your message to the world—literally. With digital media, anyone with an idea can get his or her message out there, and receive almost instant input from anybody else interested in the same subject.
Before launching your career, take an objective look at your qualifications as an author.
Commitment: A writing career takes time to build. Most people don’t land a profitable assignment the first time out. It takes time to nurture contacts and build a network. You must be willing to stick with it until you see results. And probably hold down another job while waiting for adequate income.
Skill: Ideally, a writer will be born with abilities that prepare her for effective writing. Observant. Lover of words. Clear thinker. Natural story teller. Since not all of us come equipped with the whole package, it may take some time and effort to hone our abilities and ready ourselves to enter the field. Be prepared to seek out ways to improve on your natural abilities.
Passion: Believe in yourself and your message. Skill is no substitute for a burning desire to share your ideas with others. Your love of a topic will come through to your audience—and sustain you during the ups and downs of becoming a writer.
Teachability: The publishing industry is a behemoth that is constantly growing and morphing. A writer must be a continual learner, observing and anticipating trends that could impact the trade. Writing styles change. Word meanings change. Even grammar changes. Letting existing skills stagnate will not prepare you to grasp opportunities. Study the craft for your chosen genre, whether it be fiction or non-fiction, article or story, memoir, opinion, or technical report. Specific expectations are in place for each one. Learn these.
Confidence: Unfortunately, the path to success as a writer is strewn with rejection slips. This process can be devastating to the ego. Writing that was stellar in your freshman English class no longer stands up to the competition. Editors and agents will reject your work. Critique groups will slash your prose. Forum posters will insult you and argue with you. A writer must develop a thick skin and deflect the negative responses. It’s all part of the process. Persistence and determination are key in achieving the final pay-off.
If you meet the criteria set out in these five items, you may be ready to move forward. Post a comment and let me know you’re out there. Tell me where you are with your writing and what you’d like to see in this blog.