If you say you want to be a writer, then you have to write. If you write regularly, then you are a writer. Writers are not just those who make it onto some or other best sellers list… they are people who are compelled to write, regardless of their level of skill or experience. They have something to express and to share. If you are a writer who hides all of your work in the bottom drawer, you are a closet writer… and hopefully, you will ‘come out’, one day!
A writer loves an audience, whether it is made up of one or two appreciative readers, or a thousand. I have a dream of being out and about somewhere and spotting someone reading one of my (currently) two little books… and recognising that they are completely caught up in it. I remember one occasion when I was around 9 years old, sitting in class and reading the book that had been allocated to me. I was so engrossed I had no idea that the teacher had lined everyone else up in the hallway, until I heard a loud, “Hey, bookworm!” That’s how involved I would love my readers to be! Right now I am not making any money from writing (although my business-site blog does attract customers, so from that point of view I am; as for Amazon, although I have 15 x 5 star and 1 x 4 star reviews on one book, and 5 x 5 star reviews on the other, they aren’t flying out and are only bringing in pennies), but I love knowing that they are out there, and that others will eventually follow. Possibly, maybe, money will come later.
If you write regularly you will improve your skills, and if you read as often as you are able to, your capacity for storytelling, and your delivery, will continue to develop.
You do not need to have a stash of available cash in order to be able to publish your work. You can create a blog for free, and even if you want to self-publish books but don’t have any money, you can do it for free. You will be assured by those in the know that you can’t… because you have to pay for professional editing services and you have to have a professionally designed cover. Well, they certainly help, and in an ideal world that’s exactly what you would do. But, if you are skint, what are you going to do? Wait to publish until you are in a better financial position (which might be years away), or take out a loan to cover your costs? Or, decide that you are going to take that first step, to the best of your ability, and make improvements as you go along? I used family and friends as editors, I used Canva.com to create my initial book covers for free, and I learned how to format my manuscripts for upload. Since then I have edited and republished both books, and paid a not overly large amount to have new covers designed. I found a few mistakes that had not been spotted by any of my volunteer editors or myself, and I tidied up a few things up. I could have waited until I was in a better position but I’m glad that I didn’t. I was naive when I originally published, imagining my first novella (Daniel Beyond Death), and my second (You Wear It Well), flying out by the boxload … and of course I was sadly disappointed! Thank God I got over that silliness. I know that some writers are an immediate and instant hit, overnight best sellers – but, for most of us, the process will take a lot longer and I am not being negative when I say that. Although I started off publishing only in Kindle form, I now have in my possession two paperbacks with my name on the front… and I just love them because I love the characters and their individual stories! Through my ‘day’ job I have been asked one particular question several times: “If I write a book will it be successful?” My response? “Probably not.” If we are only going to write a book on the assurance that it will be a success (and what exactly does that mean, anyway?), we clearly aren’t that interested in writing and are unlikely to motivate ourselves to complete it, never mind start it.
I tend to go back to my blogs and re-edit them, even changing the title, days after I have published… sometimes even months or years. It might be a tweak, or a deletion or addition. I have deleted blogs from way-back-when that were poorly written or too chit-chatty and with no substance. It is akin to tending to a garden… pulling out the weeds, nurturing the blooms, and planting new seeds!
Writers are advised to join groups and to sign up for this and that course, and whilst I am not dismissing these things, I honestly don’t have time to involve myself. I have ventured the occasional toe into such waters but have never immersed myself. There is what I call my day job to attend to, everyday and family stuff that requires attention, my own personal projects (like kickboxing, for fitness and strength), and writing. I may be missing out big-time, but right now there is no room in my life for it. If you are in the same position, or joining in just isn’t your thing, you can probably get by without it. If you have to choose between writing or spending time on an online writer’s forum… choose writing (is my advice)!
And remember, you have to work in your own way, not the way you are told is the ‘right’ one. I edit my work as I go along, rather than getting it all down on paper and going back over it. I also re-edit my blog, as previously mentioned, after publication. I have a number of undeveloped writing projects that are basically just ideas I may come back to. I tend to find inspiration in snippets of conversation, and often use writing as a therapeutic exercise (I never name and shame, but if I am seriously peed off you can bet I will weave it into a blog!). With works of fiction I start with the characters first and foremost, and the story tends to unfold around them. But, that is the way I do it, and you may well have a completely different approach – so, be true to yourself or you will feel tense and uncomfortable, and that will be obvious to your readers!