I have had the pleasure of speaking with many individuals who are impressed by the fact that I am a published author. Quite often, the topic of conversation quickly switches to their desire to become a writer. Few of these people ever end up actually writing anything, and of those who do, many quickly become discouraged, as they have no direction as to what to do next.
For a new creative writer, one of the first questions you should ask yourself is this: What is going to be my path?
To become a writer, one who is paid, one who is recognized, one who is celebrated, you have to have more than just a vague intention. You need to develop a plan.
When you’re starting out as a writer, unless you have achieved some degree of acclaim from some other facet of your life, you are at zero. No one knows who you are, and no one has any reason to pay attention to your writing, aside from friends and family. This is the reality. This is a discouraging starting point, but it is where at least 90% of writers start. The question then, again, is where do I start?
Below are a few separate paths you might want to explore, once you unequivocally decide that you are serious about becoming a creative writer:
- Begin publishing short fiction and/or poetry in reputable magazines. This has been my approach, once I became serious about becoming an author. I found journals that published writing that was similar in style and content to my own work, targeted them, and began getting published in order to start the process of making my name.
- Start writing your novel. Without any prior publishing credits, and with no platform, you are going to have a difficult time landing a publisher for your manuscript. Undoubtedly, your only choices will be independent publishers, or self-publishing. If you choose to try to get published with an independent publisher, ensure that your work is tightly edited and you should probably hire a publishing consultant, as well. If you go the self-publishing route, be clever and persistent in your marketing approach to ensure that your work is not ignored amongst the sea of self-published novels.
- Connect with local writers. Find writer’s workshops or seminars in your local area, and begin striking up friendships with other writers. You can have other, more experienced, writers take you under the wings, and show you the ropes.
- Obtain proper training. I highly recommend the incredibly practical, affordable and effective Gotham Writer’s Workshop if you want a quick run-through of the principles of creative writing in an interactive environment. If you are looking to obtain your Bachelor’s Degree, enroll in a Creative Writing program. If you are looking to obtain a Master’s, consider applying to MFA programs.
- Land a writing job. One of the best ways to become an effective writer is to write daily. If you want to write creatively, perhaps landing a job in communications, where your writing acumen will be utilized and sharpened every day, would be an excellent first step before embarking on the world of creative writing.
Publisher, The Literary Game