Written by JJ Barnes
I am very proud to say that one of my jobs is to be a writer. I write words and people read them. Of all the ways I try to make my way in this world, that is the way I invest most of my heart and soul. I’ve been asked many times how someone who aspires to it can be a writer. So these are my top tips.
1) To Be A Writer, You Must Write
Being a writer doesn’t mean anything more than you write. Before I sold my first book I was a writer. Before I wrote my first news article I was a writer. I know this to be true because I wrote. I wrote stories, I wrote blogs, I wrote articles. You will never become a professional writer unless you master writing for the sake of writing. Nobody will ever pay you money to write for them, unless you have proven you can do it.
So write. Write with your free time, write when you’re tired. If you have a story in your head, write it until it dries up. Have a folder on your computer full of chapter ones. Have notebooks full of ideas that never develop beyond the bullet point stage. Write a blog about books or films or parenting or food. Write. You’ll never be a writer unless you write.
2) Get Over Your Imposter Syndrome Or You’ll Never Write
I don’t say this lightly because I know it’s a challenge to get over imposter syndrome. But you have to. If you have a voice in your head that’s telling you that you can’t be a writer because you’re just not good enough, it’s time to get over it. Ignore that voice because that is what’s stopping you from doing anything. It’s not inexperience or lack of ideas. You can find story prompts to get you started. You can read and learn and study from blogs and books and youtube for the education. But if you let your brain convince you that you shouldn’t even start, you’ll never be a writer.
3) To Be A Writer You Have To Stop Demanding Perfection
I’ve spoken to so many people who cannot get past the first draft stage. There’s so many flaws that they can’t keep writing. There’s plot holes and badly written sentences, undeveloped characters and side adventures that feel pointless. First drafts are a mess. And if you’re insistent that your story is perfection, you’ll never have a story.
Stop demanding perfection from your first draft. Embrace the mess and the chaos because that is your brain just freely creating. Perfection comes later. Perfection comes after you’ve finished your first draft, maybe written and rewritten it into a second and third draft (the final version of Lilly Prospero And The Magic Rabbit is about draft six), and edited. Then when you’ve edited, you’ll send it off for further edits and find even more imperfections. Then you’ll fix those.
Even now, there’s things in Lilly Prospero And The Magic Rabbit that I’m not fully satisfied with. Since writing that I’ve written more, learned more, honed my craft more. But you have to let it go at some point. If you’re such a perfectionist that no story ever sees the light of day, nobody will ever see it.
4) Love Writing So Much You’ll Suffer For It
Writing isn’t always easy. To be honest, some times it’s downright painful. And after you’ve struggled through writing and editing and the emotional turmoil of writing your story, then you have to send it into the world. And the likelihood is, it won’t change your life as much as you hope it will. You might strike it rich like the best sellers, but more than likely you won’t.
You have to work incredibly hard to promote yourself and your work to get anybody to read your words. Those words you’ve cried over, bled into, desperately honed and fought with. MOST people just won’t care. You’re competing with writers with a massive advertising budget behind them. And their books are good, just as worthy as being read as yours, and no less enjoyable. But they’re more easily found. And you’re probably going to be a tiny fish in a really big pond.
Don’t write to be rich and don’t write to be famous. If that’s what is driving you then you’re going to give up. Because it probably won’t happen. Write because you love it. To be a writer you have to need it in your guts, want it enough to suffer. Write because if you don’t you feel wrong inside. Creating drives you for the sake of creating. Then, if you do strike it rich, that can be an absolutely divine bonus that makes your life so much easier. But you’ll never lose the joy and passion for the writing because that was the reason you wrote in the first place.
How To Be A Writer Like Me
I hope this has helped inspire you. I’m not a writer to be rich (luckily because I’m REALLY not), I’m a writer because it’s what I love. I love it so much that the idea of not writing anymore feels like a darkened room with no hope or joy. To be a writer like me you have to love it, want it, and, most importantly, do it.
More From JJ Barnes:
I am an author, filmmaker, artist and youtuber, and I am the creator and editor of The Table Read.
You can find links to all my work and social media on my website: www.jjbarnes.co.uk
Buy my books: www.sirenstories.co.uk/books
Follow me on Twitter: @JudieannRose