You know you’re a writer when . . .
Before I ever had aspirations of becoming a writer, I was a voracious reader. Aside from the assigned material in high school and college, I was always drawn to commercial fiction. My hero at 13 was Sydney Sheldon.
As a family we always vacationed at golf/beach resorts so I learned the art of relaxing with a good book at an early age. I could ‘see’ the characters in my head and all the locations came to life. I really wanted to try my hand at that, too naive to know it isn’t as easy as thinking up a story and putting fingertips to IBM selectric (Yes, I am that old).
I was far from an overnight success but those 10 years of failure taught me a lot about the craft of writing. Not only did I need to be a storyteller, I also had to be proficient in plotting, pacing, characterization and conflict. There’s no writer’s school for that. It’s one of those on-the-job learning things.
The closest you can come to moving closer to that goal of being a writer is to read and learn. There is no magic handshake. I attended conferences and at every possible turn, I went to hear speakers at local libraries and community centers. I learned volumes.
At the end of the day, you have to want it. I know a lot of people who are in love with the idea of being a writer; they just don’t want to put in the time and effort to actually write. Still working on that manuscript you started 2 years ago? Well, you might want to rethink that.
I wanted to be published so badly I could taste it. And when I say it took me 10 years, I’m not kidding. I started (and stopped) about 20 manuscripts in that amount of time. It wasn’t until I learned the only secret that I finally sold. And that secret is voice. The way you tell a story is your voice. Some voices are more appropriate in historical fiction; others work best in YA; mine just happens to be either humor or serial killers. Or I can combine the 2 and do funny killers – just kidding. No one can give you a voice; you have to find your own. Sometimes that takes 10 years.