How do you become an author? What does it looks like? How does it become professional? Well, you write a book - of course - but that's not actually that helpful, is it? People know that. There has to be more. What should young writers be on the look out for, to help them out and build them up?
I don't know. Sorry. But I did go through these thoughts myself, and I remember wishing for less philosophy and more pragmatism. Look, young Simon said, it's all very well telling me to reach for the stars, but I'd rather like to know what I can do here, right now, with my hands.
This list isn't exhaustive and it might not even be true, but it's something for young authors to use and think about, and I hope it helps in some way.
Practical Things for Young Writers
- Buy some books. Get a hold of The Writers' & Artists' Yearbook (UK) or The Writer's Digest (USA). Read the bits that apply to you and follow them. If you don't fancy the agent route, and self-publishing takes your fancy, this still applies. As for books on how to write (which are good to read, and don't count as cheating), try Stephen King's On Writing and Elmore Leonard's Ten Rules. These should all be available at libraries, too, most likely in the reference section.
- Get your grammar sorted. Language does have rules, and it's not an insult to art to know what a conditional clause is. Good writing can break rules if it understands them. If you know you're hazy on verbs and tenses, look them up.
- Buy a small enough notepad to carry around. Jot down ideas, conversations, things you see. It's a good habit. And carry a pencil - pens can and will leak. Damn pens.
- Give the NaNoWriMo Young Writers project a go. Connections and feedback are probably two of the hardest but most important things for writers starting out. NaNoWriMo can give you both.
- Join community. Whether Twitter, Absolute Write, or a group at your local library, being in contact with other writers will help you write better, get your work into the world, and understand how other people think about stories.
How much more practical could you get? Give it a go, tell your stories, and remember, amid all these books and pens - be brave, be honest, and don't you ever give up.
Photo credit: Dave Croker