It is widely considered that almost everyone, at some point in their life, will want to write a book. For me that happened in 2013. With no experience, no obvious talent, no clue what I was doing (!) …I began my writing journey after putting it on a ‘bucket list’ of things to try that year.
Had I known what being a writer actually involved, would I have still embarked on the challenge?
But I do think it’s a good idea for writers to know a few things about the industry before they get started.
WRITING is hard!
There are rules. Like suggested age-ranges, word counts, things your characters should do and things they absolutely cannot. Of course, you can break these rules… but first you need to know them.
Before that, though, you need a ‘never-been-seen-before’ idea, or at least a new slant on one. Don’t forget to be commercial. But don’t write for the market. Write what you love. And even if you get all this right…
…the words don’t always come out as you want them to, or come out at all. Whether you believe in writer’s block or not, that author celebrating the release of their debut book will have invested weeks, months, maybe even years of their blood, sweat, time and tears. Yes, it’s that iceberg kind of stuff!
REJECTIONS: It gets harder!
But even once you have a finished manuscript, the hard work isn’t over. Even if your critique group has helped you to polish it perfection. Even if you’ve got a cover letter dreams are made of. Even if you’ve even done your research on who best to submit to…
…you will get rejections. They can be tough. VERY tough. But they are the norm. And they have a significant role, honing your skills and your resilience in the creative process. They motivate us to do better! Some people believe rejections are something to celebrate, not be ashamed of. A badge of honour that says ‘I’m taking risks and moving forward.’ But that won’t take away how rubbish it feels when the text you put your heart and soul into is turned down. Remember it happens to us all – published or not. So be kind to yourself and know rejections are par for writing course. Wallow for a while, then pick yourself up and consider going again.
But pssst…. didn’t anyone tell you?! There’s one thing worse than a rejection.
Not hearing anything at all! It happens, I’m afraid. Publishing is a busy, busy business.
SELF DOUBT: It won’t ever be easy (sorry!)
The self-doubt can be crippling. It might stop you sharing work with peers. It might stop you sending texts out on submission. And even if you get GREAT news… the news you’ve been waiting for… imposter syndrome won’t be far away. It’ll have you believing that your editor will change their mind or that your agent is preparing to drop you.
For some, this feeling never goes away. Even when your book is published, there are newer books, better books, books that win awards and have umpteen five-star reviews. Everyone is on their own writing journey and every journey is different. But it can be hard to keep this in perspective, especially if you’re a fan of social media.
Someone once told me ‘Don’t compare yourself to other people. Compare yourself to the person you were yesterday.’ I totally see where they were coming from… but how about, don’t compare yourself at all? Live in the present and if it makes you happy, keep doing it.
So back to our initial question…. Are you ready to be a writer?
Well, does writing makes you happy? If the answer is yes…
Then absolutely, you are!
Yes, writing is tough. But it can also be exciting, rewarding and sociable. Life is too short not to do what you love. So, if writing brings you challenge, essential headspace, a creative outlet or happiness in anyway… then you must do it! Until it doesn’t. And then its ok to stop or take a break.
(But it is, perhaps, useful to manage your expectations by knowing what you’re signing up to before you begin!)
Over the next few weeks I’ll be blogging my top writing tips and tricks for WriteMentor. So, if you are wanting to write or revise or take your career to the next level in publishing, keep an eye out.
Clare is a children's writer and primary school teacher from Devon. She writes fiction and non-fictionpicture book texts - sometimes funny and sometimes lyrical. Her first book was published in 2015, and she currently has books in development with Little Tiger Press, Quarto, Andersen, Nosy Crow and MacMillan.
Clare is also a #WriteMentor tutor and will be running a day of workshops at our WriteMentor Weekend in Exeter, perfect if you’re looking to develop your writing and storytelling skills and/or if you’re wanting to polish a manuscript for submission. Clare also runs a manuscript critique service.
Please see her website for more details: www.clarehelenwelsh.com @ClareHelenWelsh
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