It’s one of my stock phrases: “The world needs more writers, and fewer wannabe-writers.” Sometimes people think I’m being the crotchety published author telling all the new independent and self-published writers to give it all up. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Two fundamental characteristics define writers to my mind:
Writers write, wannabes dream of being writers
If you want to be a writer, open up a word processor, text editor, or pad of paper and start putting words down in some permanent form. Now you have a copyrighted work! Develop your writing habit by repeatedly putting words down in some permanent form; every day is best, but don’t beat yourself over the head if you miss a day now and then. You won’t get better unless and until writing becomes a habit.
Writers look for readers
Wannabes who take the first step (develop their writing habit) too often believe their work isn’t good enough for others to read. Too often, we’re our own worst critic, but let me say this as clearly as I know how: the only way to succeed as a professional writer is to get readers! You have to find — and grow — an audience for your writing.
Today’s writers have a multitude of tools and places to try out their skills, and new ones pop up regularly. If you want to hone your fictional craft, try WattPad, or enter a contest. If you just want to describe your view of the world, head to WordPress.com and start blogging. Use your Facebook or Google+ space to find others interested in the same things you are and write to them.
By the way, here’s a secret: if you do any of the above, you not only have a copyright, but you’re a published writer. No longer a wannabe. And that’s what I mean by needing fewer wannabes.
Know someone who needs help finding readers?
Now it’s time for the mercenary part of this post. Perhaps you know a wannabe-writer (or maybe more than one). For many folks, December is a time for remembering your friends and family members. You know the definition of “friend,” right?
The people who know you best, and hang around with you anyway
Often you thank these people at this time of year with gifts. Have I got a great idea for you! It’s a collection of words that Carole Jelen and I wrote called Build Your Author Platform: The New Rules. It came out in May, and it will help the wannabes in your life find the audience they’ve dreamed of, regardless of what they wanna write about. It comes in electronic and paper format (the paper is easier to wrap; some outlets may even be able to wrap it up for you).
May you all have a wonderful holiday season, and a 2015 where all the wannabes in your life become writers.