By Farhana Shaikh
You’re having another bad day at the office and quite frankly you’re boss is determined to make things difficult for you…you reach for that bottom drawer, and pull out that manuscript you’ve half written, blushing as you read over the details of that last love affair you had with that boy last summer. You hold back the tears before returning the elephant eared pieces of papers, back where they belong, mutter some evil thoughts towards the boss and dream of the day you’re discovered as the next big thing. Okay okay I admit maybe its not quite like that, but perhaps you’ve had this burning ambition to write, and yes, you think that your is pretty good and perhaps you secretly believe that you’re the next JK Rowling!
Hold that thought! The truth is your work is probably good, and with a little guidance it could be brilliant but in reality many of us believe we have the workings of a bestselling novel in our heads. They say most should stay there. The reason being that as much as many people would like to write not many are willing to take the leap to practice the art of writing. And ask any writer, who will tell you it will take hours and hours of practice. As an editor its easy for me to distinguish between the dreamers and the ones who will make it. There’s one difference, one is willing to write the dream the other is simply living in a dream world.
If you want to write, then as funny as it may sound, that is what you need to do. Sit down and spend an hour a day – writing. While you will find thousands of books on writing and how to write a best seller I have to say the most useful book I haveve come across is one written by Dorothea Brande. Written well over seventy years ago, her advice is simple, write about anything, but write. Writers do spend an awful amount of time procrastinating but don’t let that be a negative. Sometimes procrastinating is just what you need to figure on what your characters need and the adventures they will go on. Keep a character profile, which will help you to get inside your characters head.
Writing can make a career if done well. You probably aren’t going to be the next JK Rowling in all honesty but there’s no reason why you can’t be a successful well paid author. The average author earns less than the national average according to the Society of Authors. The reason? Authors fail to recognise commercial opportunities and when they do, they fail to exploit them.
In 2008 I attended a conference for writers, with an opening speech by Stephen Booth, where very early on he made a point about the fact that writers need to eat. You should approach your writing like you would a business. I recall people in the audience being a little shocked by his approach but I think he makes a good point. If writing is really something you want to do, then write, and initially write for experience but once you have a portfolio of published work; don’t sell yourself short.
Reading is something that you will need to start doing regularly. Change your world. Go to writers conferences, meet up with writers at book signings. If you’re going to make a success of this new world you need to place yourself in there. There is little point in beavering away in the background writing a novel that you firmly believe in because unless anyone else sees it, that is all it will be. A fantasy. You need to get out there, use social networking sites and connect with the circle of people that you want to be part of. Taking a creative writing course might inspire you to sit down to write, but don’t think that they will be your ticket to getting published. The slush pile statistics are depressing and if you want to make a name for yourself you need to start by thinking out of the box and reaching out to your readers right away.