This post is for all you new writers out there – or for anyone who feels like they’re not an expert yet. That probably covers most everyone.
Since I’ve been blogging for a few years and I have a few books published on Amazon, I’ve had a number of people ask me questions about writing. Apparently, they view as an expert. Which I’m certainly not – but anyone who is a few steps further down the road can offer advice to those who are coming along behind, and so that is what this blog post is about.
So here are five questions that I’ve people ask me about writing and becoming a writer:
Should I write a book?
Do you want to a write a book? “Should I write a book?” is not a question that anyone can answer except you. If you feel that you have a story to tell, a message to communicate, or a part of your life that you want to share, then yes, you should write a book.
Do I have to have an English degree to write a book?
A related comment I’ve heard from a lot of people is “I never went to college, so I could never be a writer.” College is not a requirement for writing – or publishing – a book. See the first point. If you have a story to tell, then write it. Yes, understanding some basics of story structure and having a decent grasp of language usage, grammar, and punctuation do help. But those things you can learn from reading books on writing, listening to critique partners and editors, and just plain practice.
Should I wait until I have a book published before I start a blog or social media?
No. It’s never too early to begin branding yourself as a writer. Blogging and using social media are great ways to start building yourself fans and a following so that when you do finally have a finished book, you already have people who are excited about it.
This is, of course, if you’re wanting to sell books to strangers. If all you want is to write one book and give it to family and friends – by all means go for it, but branding and promoting yourself on social media is not necessary.
Is genre important?
Yes, it is. This is a lesson that I’m constantly learning and re-learning. I write fantasy and science fiction, which are actually incredibly broad genres, and the various sub-genres have different sets of rules and expectations.
The rules and expectations of genre really do matter, and will help you to tell a stronger story. For example, readers of romance expect a happy ending. If your “romance” book ends with two estranged lovers and a dead body, readers will not be pleased – and may not buy your next book, even if the story was well-told. Saying your book is for “everyone” is never true. Readers of horror expect certain things from their favorite books, while readers of westerns expect something very different.
How do I write a book?
Just sit down and start writing. There are different ways of organizing and planning your book as you write. Some people – plotters – will come up with an outline, detailing each and every scene, before they actually sit down to write. Pantsers, on the other hand, start out with just the vaguest idea and start writing to see where it goes. Others, like me, are somewhere in between.
As for the craft of writing, there are books, workshops, seminars, and online resources galore that can help educate you and get you started. But ultimately, you just need to start. The first few pages – or even the first few finished full drafts – might never see the published light of day, and that’s ok. A writer is someone who writes.
Do you have a question about writing? Have you ever been asked a question about writing? Please share!