Ever since I was a little kid, I've known that I wanted to be a writer. And over the years, I've met many people around my age who share my goals, who love to read and write, some of us with the hope of one day being published. However, over the last few months, I have been more focused on my writing than before and it's forced me to accept certain realities, particularly in regards to my expectations of myself and my writing.
If you're also an aspiring writer, I hope you find something useful to help you achieve your goals.
If you're not reading, you're not a writerGiphy
This is probably the most important point that every aspiring writer needs to know. If you get only one point from this entire article, let it be this. And I've realized that as a writer, especially in the beginning, reading is even more important than writing. You can't write if you aren't constantly consuming and exposing yourself to writing. Think of it like this: would you expect someone to be able to become a songwriter or music producer if they hardly ever listened to music? They would have no source material, no guides for how to construct their work. They'd have no idea of what kind of music they do and don't like- which would let them know what kind of music they want to create themselves. This same logic applies to writing.
Nothing is going to happen right away - be patientGiphy
I used to think I was going to be one of those Young Adult authors who got a book deal in their early 20s, and was a full time author by the time they were 25 - like Veronica Roth and Tomi Adeyemi. But now, I have realized while that would be amazing to be published in my 20's, it's not something I should expect, because that's not what happens for most writers. One of my favorite writers, Nicola Yoon, didn't publish her first book until 2012 at the age of 43- after working as a programmer for 20 years. I would advise any other aspiring writers to do the same - focus on reading and developing your writing skills. The more time you devote to this, the sooner you'll be able to write a book that has a good chance of being published.
Just writing isn't enoughGiphy
Although your first priority as a writer should be developing your writing skills, marketing and business skills are also important for writers, as they are for any creative. It's important to be able to market your work, as well as market yourself as a writer. If people get to know you as a person they're more likely to buy anything you write, regardless of whether or not it's in the genre they'd usually read. If your readers like you, and they like your writing, they'll buy your books. That's where social media comes in. Many of my favorite writers utilize social media to connect with their readers, sharing their writing process, and personal lives. A perfect example of this is Sabaa Tahir, author of The Ember Quartet.
Your stories aren't going to write themselvesGiphy
YES, SHOCKING RIGHT? WHO WOULD HAVE THOUGHT? You know the first draft of that story that you started two years ago? Until you go back to that word document and finish the first draft, the story is always going to stay just that - a first draft.
You're never going to have as much time to write as you do nowGiphy
Making time to write is difficult. But here's the thing- it always will be. And the older you get, the more responsibilities you'll have- and the less free time you'll have to write. If you're reading this- you're likely in college. Like me, you likely have to deal with classes, work, social life, family, all while to keep yourself functioning by getting a (somewhat) reasonable amount of sleep. But once you graduate college, you'll be heading to either the workforce or to graduate school, both of which will demand more of your time and effort than your undergraduate degree. And expecting yourself to write every day isn't realistic, but just try to be as consistent as you can. Even if you write only 20 minutes one day, 1 hour the next, it's still better than nothing and it's still getting you one step closer to your ultimate goal.
If you're still reading, you know that writing isn't easy. It's only fun when you have random bursts of inspiration - but those are far and few between. Most of writing is just sitting down and forcing yourself to do it, and then scrapping and rewriting, deleting and changing scenes and characters and chapters, each revision taking you one step closer to a (somewhat) cohesive story. I'm still working on applying all of the points mentioned here - so just remember that you're not alone.