I can be one of those people that allows the details to overwhelm me, especially when it’s something complex. Make it something I really care about and I’m well on my way to drowning my worries in a six-pack of hard cider.
Writing is complex. There are skill sets to learn and develop. You have to find time to pursue the craft. Then there’s the work of developing a relationship with your Muse and suffering through the creative ups-and-downs that come with any art form. You will face your worst habits and leverage your greatest strengths. Some days you will win and some days you will wonder what the hell you were thinking when you said, “I want to be a writer.”
Here’s just a short list of the things you have to learn in order to write (assuming your goal is publication):
Grammar. Get good at it. You will wish you paid better attention in high school English at least once before this is over.
Spelling. You need to get good at that, too. Spell-check ninjas are real, folks.
Idea Generation. To be a writer, you have to write something. To be successful, you have to write something no one’s ever seen.
Character Creation. Ready to give birth to imaginary friends and have them chattering at you 24/7?
Plot Development. You’re about to find out how good a storyteller you are. Or aren’t.
Discipline. Can you kick your own ass? Are there yoga poses to help with that?
Courage. You would be surprised how much fear plays a factor in transitioning from a wanna-be writer to a successful author.
Editing. Your right brain doesn’t get to have all the fun. You spend months and years writing only to destroy your work to make it better.
Re-Writing. Oh, you thought you were done? How quaint.
Querying. You love your book. Now you have to convince someone you’ve never met to read it in five paragraphs. Challenge accepted!
Publishing. Self-publishing? Traditional publishing? Ready for the endless debate about which is better? It won’t necessarily help you decide and either way — you have to figure out how to do it.
Marketing. If you have a problem with whoring yourself out, stop now.
Social Media. Because readers want relationships with people, not with books. Add this to your already full to-do list. Time to stress over follower counts.
Writing… Again. That’s right — you still have to write. Unless you intend to be a one-hit wonder, in which case, rock on wit’cha bad self.
It’s quite a lot to take in, isn’t it? And this isn’t even a comprehensive list! But the good news is You don’t have to know it all before you start. It’s a journey and you take it one step at a time.
If you are approaching this as a career, remember that careers last decades, if not a lifetime. You grow. You develop expertise. Your skill set deepens and broadens. You are mentored and then you, in turn, mentor others. It’s impossible to know everything up front, however, you do have to keep in mind that you are committing to becoming a student of an art and an industry. It will take up your time and you will have to invest yourself — time, money, energy — in order to get the returns you want.
The most important thing is that you start the journey. You put one foot in front of the other and that’s how you get there. One step at a time.
Give a listen to the most recent Method and Muse Podcast (Hey Y’all, Watch This — Do You Have To Know It All To Write) where we’ll discuss all the things you do and don’t need to know and how to know if you’re ready — and I mean really ready — to start chasing that dream.