One of the hardest and best parts about becoming an author is that suddenly, everyone wants to know how you did it. They want to know your secret. They want you to stop holding back and tell them what it really takes to publish a book. They want you to be honest and real and just give them the straight skinny.
The trouble here is, I don't know the secret. In fact, I am pretty sure there isn't one. But, I can offer you a list of suggestions that have helped me and my writing process. Let me know if you have others to add.
1. READ. I know, I know, everyone who's anyone says it. But it's true. Readers become writers. If you don't love reading, you probably won't love writing. Simple as that.
2. LISTEN. Sneak around. Start dressing in black. Carry a newspaper, a sound-amplifying device and a pair of binoculars everywhere you go. Okay, I'm sort of kidding, but not really. Writers are sleuths. They like to eavesdrop on people and steal their stories, their expressions and their reactions to things. Writers pay attention to the world around them.
3. WRITE. It sounds obvious, right? But believe me, one of the hardest parts of being a writer is sometimes WRITING. For me, there are a zillion things that distract me from my writing each day: a pile of laundry needs to be folded, or a bill needs to be paid or the dog needs to go for a walk. And the Internet! Let's not even get started on that... The truth is, you can't be a writer if you don't write. See if you can make some time for it every day. When I do that, when I allow my writing to be on the top of my To-Do list instead of the bottom, things happen. My characters trust me more. Settings become more vivid. Words flow faster. Try it.
4. REWRITE. There. I said it. That ugly word...rewrite. I know, I know, it's not nearly as fun to go back and revise your pages as it is to keep moving forward and creating new ones. As many, many authors, teachers and other smart people have said before--writing is rewriting. Very few people can write something and have it be shiny and awesome the first time around. In order to be a writer, you have to be okay with being a re-writer.
5. BELIEVE. This may be the most important tip of all. If you want to be a writer, you have to be a believer. In your words. In your characters. In yourself. You have to believe that you have what it takes to write something beautiful and funny and interesting and important. You have to believe that you have what it takes to make it all the way to THE END. There is no right way to tell a story. There's only your way. And you have to believe you will figure that out, even if it takes longer than you planned. Hang in there. It's worth it, I promise. I could keep going, but these are the five tips that have helped me most with not only my writing, but my perseverance as a writer. What are some of yours?