There was a question that I heard many times from students: “How do I know if I have what it takes to really be a writer?”
There are two qualities you need to succeed as a writer – the first is talent, the second is determination. No, its more than determination, its compulsion. Writing must be such an integral part of your life that if you are breathing, you are writing.
Talent is a gift and you will know if you possess it. It enables you to share your eyes so that readers see what you are seeing. More than that, you share your other senses too, enabling them to hear, smell, taste and touch the world you have created for them. If your words speak to them and you can make them feel joy and pain, smile and weep, feel empathy and compassion, then you are a talented writer.
But it is no good being talented if your words don’t reach others. Thats where the determination comes in. All writers face rejection, often on a fairly regular basis. Don’t give in to despair and depression, you must search until you find the perfect match the idea you want to write and the correct medium in which to express it.
Writing is only half the job, selling is equally important. Craft magazines such as The Writer in U.S.A. or Writing Magazine in the U.K and of course Poets and Writers are invaluable tools to find markets for your work, as is reading (and studying) as many papers and magazines as you can. You should look for the age group they are aimed at, the income level (their ads. will tell you that) and the problems and special interests of their target audience. If you know, for example, of a problem shared by many in that group, and you have a solution for it, your article will be a sure winner, whether its on: How to make your salary stretch further or How to prevent your kids trying drugs.
When I undertake a major project such as a book (I have published thirteen ), I give myself periodic encouragement rewards. The length of time needed to complete a book can be awesome, so during its writing I submit short stories (if Im writing a novel) or magazine articles (if its non-fiction). These are much easier to sell and the temporary triumphs are confidence-boosters that provide the stamina to keep working on the much longer projects.
Even with submitting articles, I don’t invest time in writing and researching the whole piece until Ive sent out a few query letters. Only when an editor, without obligation, indicates that he/she is interested in my idea, do I complete the work. However, I do make my query letters as creative as I can and give the projected article a title as irresistible as I can make it.
As a teacher of Creative Writing for over 30 years, I tell my students that the only way they will never be rejected is never to submit anything. Then I remind them that every achievement in life begins with the two small words: I’ll try.
If I can help you with any of your problems , write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or any of the contact addresses in About Me – just click on it at the top of the Blog on the right-hand side. My books are available also by contacting me and I’ll make sure you receive them. Happy writing!