Can you remember the time you last received a hand-written letter? A thoughtful letter is a beautiful thing, a chance to let someone know that you have them on your mind.
Every year, people around the world celebrate letter writing on September 1st. Organisers say that this is a chance to look back and remember the beauty of writing and sending (as well as receiving) a hand-written letter.
For writers, this is the ideal opportunity to explore further one’s own writing prowess. Being a successful writer is not necessarily measured in pounds and pence earned, but by how much people like and enjoy the things you write.
So, how do you become a successful writer?
Find your niche
Writing is a massive and diverse field. You may be a fiction writer, enjoying creating short stories but even then, you need to know about genres and niches. Where do your talents lie? What fires your imagination as a writer?
If a story is in you, it has to come out
But this doesn’t mean you should pigeon-hole yourself before you have had time to get your writing off the ground. Creative writing courses spend time looking at all kinds of writing and genres (including poetry and creative writing) as well as commercial writing for clients.
Find a market
There is a market for all kinds of writing, but you will need to spend time finding the right market and the right clients for your style.
There are various means of doing this:
- Creative story writing – Both printed and online publications are continually looking for fresh, vibrant writers and stories. Your work will transgress borders, so don’t just look for British publications. Take a look at The Write Life and similar websites for ideas about who is accepting stories. Always check individual websites and publishers for details on how to submit your stories or synopses.
- Paid commercial opportunities – You can write for money so that you can pay the bills whilst you write your novel or screenplay! Companies are always looking for blog and article writers to create high-quality blog posts for their websites, as well as publish guest posts for publication on other websites. You can canvass companies directly, or bid for work through a variety of agencies.
Writing is a creative art. What one person likes, another will not – this can make for a bumpy ride for many writers.
Don’t be frightened to write crap, because crap makes good fertiliser
There are differences in what your client or a publisher will want, but there are some basics to bear in mind:
- If you are given a brief, make sure you understand it and write within its bounds
- Feedback is useful, and a good way to improve what and how you write
- Editors will make changes to your work – you can disagree, but pick your battles carefully…
- Always, always, always proofread your work because mistakes (see what we did there!) and typos are embarrassing!
Read, read, read and write
If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others:
read a lot and write a lot
– Stephen King
In order to be a chef, you need to cook food – but you also need to taste in order to check the seasoning. You may also dine out at other restaurants to see what other chefs are producing.
The same is true when it comes to writing. The more you read across different genres, the wider your own imagination will be. This is about how you express certain feelings and emotions in the words you choose.
Listening to radio plays and spending time at the theatre are also great ways to develop your writing skills. Why is it that when you listen to a radio play, the picture in your head is so rich and full? How did the playwright create this imaginative world for you to enjoy?
Keep at it
Every writer I know has trouble writing
There are days when the words won’t come. There are days when it feels like torture. But then there are the days when the words trip off the end of your pen or appear in streams on the screen before you.
The important lesson when writing is this: keep at it. Keep putting one word after another, not worrying whether you have the comma or full stop in the right place until later on in the process. Create your characters: make them smile, make them cry, make them big and bold or make them shy, make them the bully and make them the victim.
Enjoy writing and enjoy reading because one day you could be
someone’s favourite author.