So you’ve decided you want to be a writer. You’ve chosen a difficult career path, but one that can be extremely rewarding. There are so many different types of writers, including: marketers, journalists, fiction writers, nonfiction writers, and others. But right now, as you’re just beginning, you might not want to choose one specific area just yet.
That’s okay! You don’t have to choose a specialty right off the bat. In fact, many writers change their area of focus throughout their careers. In this article you will find advice that will work for any writer in any area.
To find success as a writer, you need to do these three things:
- Learn your grammar rules inside and out
- Develop self-discipline
- Accept rejection and celebrate your victories
Know Thy Grammar
Writing is all about communication. You need to communicate your thoughts, your story, the facts you’ve researched, whatever your topic might be, to your audience. This communication has to be clear and compelling.
To communicate clearly, you must know your grammar rules inside and out. You have to avoid run-on sentences, which are becoming more prevalent in the digital age. Run-on sentences almost always create confusion.
Would you like it if, during the middle of a song, the band said, “Hold on. We have to figure out the next note,” and you had to wait? That’s what a run-on sentence does. It interrupts the flow of the writing by forcing the reader to stop and figure out the writer’s intention.
Run-on sentences aren’t the only grammar mistakes that trip up readers. Misspelled words, fragments, missing commas, and other errors all make the reading experience more frustrating for the audience.
It’s essential that, as a writer, you know your grammar rules inside and out so that you avoid these mistakes. If you are fairly confident in your grammar skills already, brush up on the areas where you’re uncertain.
On the other hand, if you know your grammar skills are lacking, then you should put in some serious time studying. Purchase a grammar workbook. Watch YouTube videos. Enroll in a course.
There are many options available to help you strengthen your grammar skills. All of them require one quality, however: constant vigilance.
Vigilance means “the action or state of keeping careful watch.” You must be constantly vigilant when you are embarking upon your writing career.
You must carefully watch yourself because it’s easy to take a day off writing. You have other things to do. People want hours of your time. And more than anything else, writing (and editing!) is hard.
You might be tempted to take a day, a week, a month off writing. That month then becomes two months, three months, and before you know it, it’s been a year since you’ve written anything significant.
This is one of the hardest parts of writing: forcing yourself to continue to write even when it’s hard, even when you haven’t been successful, and even when you’re not sure that you’ll ever have an audience.
No matter what your objections are, you have to overcome them and write. It will take a very long time to improve if you’re constantly having to start over and re-learn the lessons that you’ve learned before.
Constant vigilance also means that you believe in your writing. You believe in it enough to keep coming back to it even when you don’t want to. You know that the story you have to tell is important and needs to be heard, no matter what the outcome of submitting it might be…
Keep Trying, No Matter What
Last but not least, you need to be prepared that, especially as you are just starting out, you will most likely face rejection.
When you begin writing, you are still learning. Your first works, no matter if they’re reported stories or short fiction, will not be as polished as your later writing.
Editors and literary agents are overwhelmed with submissions from aspiring writers. They have more submissions than time to read them. This means that your writing must stand out.
It also means that you’ll be rejected. You have to be prepared for this, and you have to understand that you will get “no”s from the places where you want to be published.
It’s part of the process. You have to accept it, move on, fix your writing, and continue submitting. It’s not fun, but it’s reality.
When you do receive good news, however, then you need to take the time to celebrate. Be happy that your writing has received a favorable reaction from a professional in the field, and be ecstatic if your writing is going to reach its audience.
Take the time to appreciate your victories, and then get back to your writing desk.
When you strengthen your grammar skills, work consistently at improving your writing, and keep a balanced perspective on the rejections and acceptances, you will have a solid foundation on which to build your writing skills.
Make sure you read other writers in your field as well. Learn from them so that you can see what qualifies as publishable material. Above all else, always believe in yourself and your writing.