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Saturday, February 8, 2014

Tips for Young, Aspiring Authors

Since joining tumblr, I've had several questions from aspiring authors sent in to me. If you ever want to ask me a question, send me a tweet, Facebook message, or email. While I might not get it answered soon, I'll put it on the list. So, here is the first question answered here on my blog.

just-alittlebit-insane asked, "Hey do you have any tips for a young aspiring author???"

There are so many tips and information to learn, it's hard to fit them all into a post. So, I'll put down the basics--some of the very most important tips.

1. Dedication and Drive
It's not uncommon for aspiring authors to lack support from their loved ones. Unless you are already posting fiction online, you probably don't have any fans yet. You're favorite author isn't standing over your shoulder giving you pointers and cheering you on. For some writers, the only person they have on their sides are themselves. (That's not anyone reading this, because I'll be on your side.) But my point is, whether no one is encouraging you, or your whole family is, ultimately, YOU have to be a self-motivator and a self-starter. YOU have to be your boss and be self-disciplined. You have to put in the writing. You have to do the learning. And you have to want it.

2. Do More, Talk Less
I see a lot of aspiring writers talking and talking and talking about writing, but they don't actually sit down and write! With social media, it's easy to get caught up into feeling like you're a writer even if you aren't actually writing. My goal is to always be writing more than I talk about writing. So sit down and write. Like everything else, you learn from experience, so if you want to be a writer, write.

3. With that said, writing will only get you so far. You need to learn about writing. You can write for years, and make some improvements, but you'll only get so far because you haven't fully developed an "eye" for it. Luckily there are LOTS of places to learn about writing:

You can take a class on it. (college, community education, my boss has some online courses. They're pricey, but he's an international best-selling author, and he looks over your work. If anyone is interested, go to mystorydoctor(dot)com.)

You can attend a writing conference, a place where you can learn from professionals in the field--best-selling authors, agents, and editors.

There are many great books on writing. I recently mentioned some on my blog kamimcarthur.blogspot.com//2013/12/best-books-of-year.html  These are some that I read last year. You can also subscribe to the Writer's Digest magazine.

There are also free places to learn about writing: blogs, podcasts, newsletters. Make sure you are learning from professionals, since anyone can post stuff on the internet. The podcast I listen to is called "Writing Excuses." My friend does one where he interviews professional writers like Kevin J. Anderson and James Dashner. You can find that one at foreverwriters.com. My boss, David Farland, has a newsletter with writing tips that he sends out several times a week called "David Farland's Daily Kick in the Pants." Go to davidfarland.com to find it.

4. Read and Watch Fiction. 
Learn by reading and watching fiction. What do you like about the story you are reading? What don't you like? See if you can figure out what the writer did to give you that reaction. "Dissect" it. For example, if there is a death scene that really moves you, see if you can see why--is it the way it was written? Or did the author let us get to know the character really well? How so? You can also get motivation and inspiration from reading and watching other stories.

Anyway, I hope this helps. As a "young" aspiring author, some of these might not fit with your lifestyle yet--like you might not be able to drive to another city to attend a writing conference, but it's good to know they exist.

In closing, I'm a strong believer that if you want something bad enough, you'll get it--because you are willing to do whatever it takes.

So, if you really want to be a writer, you'll get it. If you are working hard at it, someone will reach out and help. But it starts with you. And be patient with yourself. Like anything else, it takes time.

Ask me a question.


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