Okay, you’ve done it. After years, or a few days, of thoughtful consideration and desperate yearning, you’ve really done it. You’ve flipped a switch in your head, and maybe, if you’re lucky, in the heads of a few other people. You’ve acquired a desk that is really just a table, or at least one of those bean-shaped laptop-holding things. You may have also acquired your grandmother’s typewriter, or some expensive pens, or an expensive pocket-sized notebook with an expensive pocket-sized pen companion. You may have Googled the word “twee” in the hopes of learning more about a subset of the culture you’ve decided to fit yourself into, and you may have subsequently been unsure what exactly you were supposed to glean from the dozens of stills from Wes Anderson movies that then filled your screen. That is the moment you did it. You are now a Writer.
Maybe you’re a Writer because remaining in your squirrel-print pajama bottoms all day is a higher priority for you than things like food, or ever again being able to afford a new pair of pajama bottoms. Maybe you’re a Writer because you have some voices in your head that you hope will disappear if you can just write them out of you. They might, but new ones will take their places. Maybe you’re a Writer because you love stories, and you want to make, or just tell, some of your own. Writers often begin as Readers.
But with your new, exclusive title of Executive Writer come new responsibilities. Reading is no longer just for fun. As a Writer, reading is part of your job description. Reading is how you find the tricks you like, the tricks you don’t, the tricks you want to blatantly steal, and the tricks you know just how to twist for your own devious writerly purposes. As a Reader, you could sit back and let a story wash over you in big, macro waves. You could think about how those waves were formed, what tectonic shifts brought them to you, if you wanted to, but you didn’t have to. Some drops of these waves have probably lodged themselves in your proto-Writer brain, where they may one day coalesce into a magical dream that reveals the way your novel-in-progress should end.
But as a Writer, you need to be a little more systematic. Catalogue the droplets. Examine the physics. Pay attention. If you find yourself losing patience with a character, a narrator, a narrative, and forgoing the next chapter for a staring contest with that one really toothy squirrel on the left thigh of your pants, ask yourself why. If you find yourself blazing through a book in single, wine-fueled evening, ask yourself why. Good Writers are also Noticers and Questioners.
And Explorers – do not eschew with a firm hand anything that does not seem like the kind of thing you would write. If you want to write a novel, read some nonfiction, some plays, some poems. If you want to write some poems, read a memoir or a collection of short stories. Read blogs! Read product packaging! Read whatever you want to, and even a select few things you don’t want to. Above all, as a Writer, do what helps you, what makes you, write.
We writers are usually known to spend most of our time alone, letting words speak instead. This time of writing can become lonely if the writer does not connect with other writers. Also, there is no room for personal growth in the writing if one does not receive feedback and criticism.
Writing communities are a great place to connect with writers from all over the world and share thoughts, feelings, and ideas. It is a place to receive critiques on pieces and use them to grow.
There are plenty of writing communities out there. It is easy to connect with other writers who share a love of a favorite genre or style. A few good ones include: NaNoWriMo, The Next Big Writer, and WritersCafe.org. These have fellow writers who will gladly support and guide a writer asking for help. You can share thoughts and ideas too.
If you join these communities, you will benefit from them. Now, having family and friends look at and assess your stories is not a bad thing. It can be good feedback. But writers have a better idea of what to look for in terms of style, plot, and character development and will probably tend to be more honest than family. They understand the nuances that come with each word. They will provide assistance in any way that is needed to improve a piece. They may have information about how to get published if that is an end goal. Writers want each other to do well. So use these communities to connect with fellow writers and grow with each other. You won’t regret it.
Websites are an important place for readers to go find their favorite writers and see what they are doing. They give the readers information about the new works coming out and where to find other stories. Here are a few pages that most authors have on their websites:
Bios allow the readers to get to know the writer whose work they absolutely love. They do not have to be extensive like Stephen King’s is on his website, but they should let the readers know more about you than what they do from reading your books. Some ideas to include are where you are from, where you graduated, how many/what kinds of pets do you have, things you hate, and things that you love. You can be serious, funny, lengthy, or straight to the point when you write it. Basically it is up to you.
Books/Stories/Poems Published and Where
This is a complete list of where your work has been published. Usually writers and poets start by submitting many of their short stories or poems to literary journals/ reviews. This adds credibility when you submit stories. Well known authors usually only add their trade published books and this allows their readers to easily find their other work.
This usually pertains to work published and keeps the readers updated on when the next new book is coming out.
Blogs are handy to draw readers to your website. If you need further convincing about creating a blog read: “Three Reasons Writers Might Want a Blog.”
I cannot stress how important social media is to marketing when you eventually publish your book. This is how your readers can contact you or how you can pull them in. However, if someone is looking at your website, you have already drawn them in. So social media, for the reader, is a way to be in touch with the writer and to be the first to know the next new thing from their writer.
If you do not have a website but want to know good platforms to build websites that are easy to use (and you don’t need to know how to code) Alexandra Lindenmuth has created a great pros and cons list to help choose the website builder for you in her blogpost: “The Best Website Builder For Your Blog”.