I’ve reached a point where I consider myself a writer. As in someone actively writing and trying to get published. I was thinking the other day about what I’ve learnt in the transition from considering myself an aspiring writer to one who is a writer. There is a big difference.
First up I want to point out that my own definition of what being a writer is doesn’t suggest that I’ve actually published anything. This is actually quite an important point. Before I considered myself a writer the fact that I hadn’t gotten anything published was a thorn in my side. As if publication is the point at which you become a writer. It isn’t. You have to have been working hard before you get to the point of publication. All that time you devote to it is time you spend being a writer.
So onto the turning point. I’ve been writing stories for about ten years. In the past three years I’ve been writing a lot more and trying to get my self published. What happened that made this change? Of course it starts with writing. I’ve been devoting a significant amount of my time to writing. The more you write the more you write. It’s the gift that keeps on giving. That’s not all there is to being a writer though. Of course it is a major part of it. Something that really changed everything for me though was sharing my stories around. Getting other people to read them. This is actually a huge step, one you should take. Don’t be shy about it. The point of writing is for someone to read what you’ve written. If you want to be able to walk into a bookstore and see a book with your name written on it then you have to share your story around. Get some fresh perspective on it. It’s actually really helpful.
The other big step was sending out manuscripts. About five years ago I actually had no idea how to send my manuscript to publishers. It was such a big barrier for me. It was like the four steps meme;
step 1 write
step 2 edit
step 3 …
step 4 publication.
About two years ago I found that it’s actually quite easy. Not so much getting published but finding places that’ll have a look at your manuscript. There are plenty of publishers out there who take unsolicited manuscripts. They may tell you no and they usually give you no reasons whatsoever but it’s still a start. It’s kind of like resume dropping. Send it out and you’ll get something. Even if its finding out that your story isn’t ready yet.
If I was to rewrite the above steps it’d look like this;
step 1 write
step 2 write some more
step 3 edit
step 4 send it out for a critique. Making a critique group is a good idea.
Step 5 rewrite based on critique
step 6 edit
Step 7 another critique; maybe different people
Step 8 find a publisher who accepts unsolicited unagented stuff or get an agent.
Step 9 wait around for about three or four months – maybe doing some writing