Do you have a story idea percolating just below the surface of your everyday routine? Is there an idea that has been tumbling around in your head for a while? There are some steps you can take to get your writing dream off the ground.
First, be the best writer you can be. Writing is a craft. If you practice you will develop expertise, technique and skill. Think about it as you would think about learning to play the piano. You wouldn’t expect to play a Bach concerto after a week of lessons. The good news is with writing, you don’t have to start at the beginning. You’ve been writing your whole life. You just need to bring your game up a few notches.
Second, be a student of writing. Take the subject on with gusto. If a classroom environment is the best for you, look at the catalog of your local community college. Chances are you’ll find a class that’s right for you at a reasonable price. If you don’t have time for a class or you enjoy a more self-directed approach, there are a lot of good books on writing you can use to sharpen your skills. Many great writers have been generous with their advice to developing scribes. We’ll talk about the best books on writing in a future post.
Third, be a professional. Even if you don’t plan to quit your job to write, you’ll benefit from treating your writing as a professional does. What does that mean to you? If you wanted to turn those piano lessons into a concert career, what would it take? You know the answer. You’d have to practice, practice, and then practice. You’ll be amazed at how comfortable you’ll become with the English language. The more you write, the more that part of your brain will develop, until you’ll feel confident of your ability to put your ideas down on paper in an accurate and engaging way. By the way, many famous writers had day jobs, so don’t let the need to make a living stop you. Robert Frost was a newspaper boy and worked in a light-bulb factory. Kurt Vonnegut, who wrote Slaughterhouse-Five, was the manager of a car dealership, and Joseph Heller, the author of Catch-22, worked as a messenger boy and file clerk.
So whether you’ve always wanted to be a writer or you’ve caught the bug as an adult, there is a process you can follow to arrive at your destination. You might already know what you’ll write about or maybe you know how much you want to write but wonder where you can find stories and characters. We’ll kick around some ideas in another post.