Welcome to the Becoming a Writer blog series. Each Wednesday, I will feature a new post dealing with my journey to becoming a writer, these posts will cover everything from why I write, to building confidence, asking for feedback, to dispelling the common stereotypes of what writers do. My hopes for this blog series is to inspire beginning writers to start writing and keep with it and for experienced writers to rediscover the reasons they started writing in the first place.
A quick introduction for those of you who are new to my blog. I started writing [fiction] eight years ago. This past January, I self-published my first book, Dissonance. To date, I have sold approximately 70 books. I don’t claim to be an expert, but just an average writer trying to get her works into the hands of readers. I don’t have all the answers, or even half of them, but I have learned that inspiration comes in all shapes and sizes and occasionally, it comes in a form you least expect. I have noticed that [sometimes] you are more likely be inspired by someone in the same situation you find yourself in, instead of an industry expert.
What do you need to be a writer?
Before I started writing, I thought a writer needed an immense vocabulary, an expansive imagination, more creativity than they knew what to do with, a love of coffee [okay that one is a joke, but a lot of writers seem to like their coffee], and a profound and different story to tell. And I admit it, I was wrong… I was wrong about all those things [especially the coffee].
You actually need very little to begin writing. People will try to convince you that a laptop or tablet is required, or a special word processing software are a necessity to get your ideas straight. Others will say you need a critique group, a following, and you need to know the audience you are writing for. And tons of other recommendations and needs. As a beginner, this is all extremely overwhelming and intimidating. Where do you start?
I am going to tell you, all that advice [while good] is wrong. The only thing you NEED is a piece of paper and a writing utensil. The word processing software is nice, but you don’t NEED it. Knowing who you are writing for helps narrow down your message, but it’s not NEEDED. Critique groups can help you develop your writing voice and help you learn the craft, but it’s also not NEEDED. Creativity, a large vocabulary, coffee… and the list goes one, while nice to have are, again, not NEEDED.
When you are starting out, the only thing you NEED is to try [and of course that pen and paper]. You don’t need time, if you want to write you’ll find it. Don’t think you are creative? Start writing, it will come. Don’t know what you want to write… no worries, the story will appear in the words. The more you try, the better you will become. It’s like any new skill, because writing…. it’s not a given talent, it’s a skill to be developed [like that flat washboard stomach].
When I started writing, I had no clue what to do. I consulted writing books and magazines, but still didn’t know what I was doing, though I felt strangely inadequate afterwards. I discovered what I needed was to sit down and put pen to paper. The only thing I needed was not an expensive computer [we only had small laptop at the time and my husband was using it most of the time], an expansive vocabulary, or a network to critique my work, but instead I just needed to try. Trying set me off on the greatest adventure of my life [to date]. I am thankful I decided to try and set that pen to paper.
So my task to you, is to try. Don’t worry about all the rules, advice, and so called needs. Just try… you’ll be amazed at the outcome.