I Want to Be a Fiction Writer: What Now?

I Want to Be a Fiction Writer_ What Now_

Raise your hand if fiction writing completely terrifies you.

Raise your hand if you should have raised your hand just now but you didn’t want to because there are some things you can’t even admit to yourself. Like the time you ate an entire chocolate bundt cake from the Safeway bakery department … and also the fear of fiction writing thing.

Raise your hand if you’re tired of the raising-your-hand game.

Well, fine. We can move on.

Anyway, I know so many people who want to write fiction, and while I’m no paragon of novel awesomeness yet, I have managed to consistently make time for it over the last 10 years, so I thought I’d share a few thoughts on the subject of becoming a serious fiction writer.

Make Time to Be a Fiction Writer

Sorry for the redundancy, but I mean … come on. Without time, how the hell are you going to make this thing happen? Answer: You’re not. Because this subject has been SO overdone, I’ll just refer you to a more knowledgeable source than myself. And here’s a good list of tips for parents, who find life especially cramped (not that you non-parent folks aren’t busy too, because of course you are).

Gather Tools

Here it is: Scrivener. Enough said.

This tool allows you to skip the heinousness of writing a book in a Word document, where the tens of thousands of words and dozens of chapters quickly get away from you. Scrivener lets you break your chapters up into separate mini-docs within the larger project so that you can compare them side by side, click easily from one chapter to the next, and keep research files and outlines within the same project as well.

Commit to a Single Project

This may honestly be the hardest step. If you’re like most writers (every writer), you have a million ideas a day and not a million minutes a day. As they say, no plan survives first contact with implementation, which often drives writers off in a new, currently-more-exciting direction.

Don’t do that. Make the commitment before you start a project to see that project through to the end. Period. Honestly, it’s the only way to ensure you ever get anything done. Otherwise, you’ll spend a few delirious weeks outlining your new baby, write five chapters, and move on.

Again and again.

Don’t ask me how I know. Commit. Now. Harder. I mean it: Commit.

Learn the Craft

If you have a writing bone in your body, you’re probably convinced you have all the tools you need to pen a bestseller. (Again, don’t ask me how I know.) The truth is, you don’t. Fiction, like all things in life, is a formula. Sure, you don’t want to be formulaic, but you do want to do the job right. Well, guess what? Character development follows a formula. So does romance. Mystery. Intrigue. Internal growth. External tension. And so on.

Obviously, you should follow your favorite writing blogs. Personally, mine include The Write Practice and Writers Helping Writers.

I also recommend the AMAAAAZING book First Draft in 30 Days. Seriously, get it now. Run, don’t walk.

Know Who You Are: Consider Boutique Publishing

I think it’s important to learn about traditional publishing and try querying agents with your completed (yes, completed, okay?) manuscript. But you may find you don’t have luck with that, or you simply don’t have the interest in the traditional publishing route and that’s okay.

Personally, I write furiously and have about seven novels squared away. Considering how prolific I am, it might seem odd to you to learn that I’ve sent out about 75 query letters over the course of my entire writing career. That’s 12 years, guys.

Say what you will about me, but the truth is, I don’t want to be a fiction writer so that I can spend my time being rejected by people who reject, like, 30,000 other writer-hopefuls a day. I want to be a fiction writer so I can (maybe sit down for this) write fiction. That’s why I chose boutique publishing.

Not after a thousand rejection letters. Not after 30 years of no success. I did have an agent for about a year, and I walked away before the deal because of how poorly I was treated. A few years later, I learned about boutique publishing and its possibilities. Am I a self-publishing pro? No. I only have two books up as of this writing, and one of them needs a new cover because (surprise, surprise), you really shouldn’t design them yourself.

* rolls eyes sheepishly *

But know what? I’m happy. I’m learning all about marketing, and it’s actually working. Plus, I get to write all the time! I don’t have to wait on anyone else to do it! And the number of tools available (like Archangel Ink, whom I use for my covers and formatting) is staggering. Don’t wait to check them out yourself.

Be a Fiction Writer by Becoming a Copywriter

I know I harp on this a lot, but I honestly believe the best way to become an all-day-alla-da-time writer is to start as a copywriter. You get endless practice and get to spend your whole day penning words. It’s amazing practice for fiction, and lets you get paid for words in the meantime.

If you’re interested in learning more, I suggest you start by checking out the Free Resource Library. Just click that pretty image below, and you’re in! As always, thanks for reading, folks.

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