I get a lot of questions these days about writing. It’s not because I’m the absolute authority in the writing life or because I’m awesome. More than anything it’s because I’m the only author many of my friends know. So, it makes sense to come to me.
Problem is, I get so many questions it’s hard to keep up with them all. Currently, I’m writing a novel and that takes a lot of time and attention. I’ve been busy writing novels for the last 5 years and hope to keep going for the next 40. I feel badly when I have to say “no” to mentoring new authors or “reading over” things. I just don’t have the time to give my best to those kinds of projects.
But I can blog some answers. So…here are some FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) about the writing life. I’ll do these every once in awhile. I hope my answers are helpful!
1. I want to be a writer…I think…I just don’t know where to start. Where do I start?
Where do you start? By writing. Anything you want. Just get your booty in a chair/exercise ball/coffee shop and get those fingers moving. If you want to be a writer then you need to write. A lot. Even if it’s icky writing at first. Just do it. Worry about editing and grammar and structure later. Write like the wind.
And read. Read a ton too. (Why? Read this)
2. Then what?
Edit. Have someone you trust (someone who will tell you the truth) read it. Also, that person should be a reader. They tend to be the best at offering critiques. You might even consider hiring an editor. Yep. You might have to pay somebody. But it is worth it. Try Dina Sleiman. Her rates are reasonable. And she’s really good.
3. Then what?
You need to research the market. I know. You want me to tell you where to submit and how long it will take and what the best publisher is. Sorry. No such luck. You’ve got to do your own leg work. Why? The same reason your mom made you look things up in the Dictionary. If she didn’t make you, she should have. It’s a good education. Anyway, Google Writer’s Market Guide. There is a book that lists agents and editors and magazines. See that? I didn’t even give you the link. I’m making you do that yourself. Trust me. Doing your own work makes you better. I had to do it. Uncle Stevie King had to do it. You can do it, too. I make you do it because I love you.
4. So, how much do you get paid?
Yeah. Really. I get this question all the time. I hate this question. Here’s why. I have never asked a teacher at my kids’s school how much she makes. Never asked the check out clerk at the grocery store how much he makes. Never even entertained the idea of asking a doctor that question. Frankly, good dear friends, it’s a rude question to ask. And I know you aren’t rude. So, pretty please, don’t ask authors.
But I will answer with this…and only this…it’s not a lot. I’d make more working at a gas station sweeping the parking lot. I’m. Not. Kidding. So, if you’re thinking about writing for the fortune in royalties…sorry, I’m giggling here…move along to a career in just about anything else.
5. I still have so many questions!
I know! So do I! The writing life is full of uncertainty and massive change (just think e-books…imagine how those thingamajigs shook things up). If you have lots of questions or want to learn more, might I recommend a few things to you?
A. Think about going to a writers conference. Google them in your area. Some libraries host workshops…check with your local branch. Or, if you’re willing to come to the glory of West Michigan, you should consider the Breathe Christian Writers Conference. You will learn from professionals, meet other writers, and be encouraged. I’d love to see you there.
B. Read books about writing. Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird is one. So is On Writing by Stephen King. Also the Art of War for Writers by James Scott Bell. Oh. And read books…any books…and a lot of them. Read all the time. Always have a book with you. Always.
C. If you write fiction, check out Novel Matters. It’s a blog by writers for writers. I love the ladies who write for that blog. I believe you will too. Dig through their archives. They’ve got great content.
Have other questions? I’d love to answer them here on the blog. Know someone who wants to be a writer? Feel free to share this post with them. Thanks for being such great friends and supporters of me. I truly appreciate it!