When becoming a writer, we hardly expect to be millionaires. Well, maybe we do, but only because we don’t know how impossibly hard it is to reach that status yet. Once we do, we accept that we’re here for the love of the craft, for the need to create. Money is the bonus that comes at the end of hard work and persistence, but certainly not the driving force. That said, you should treat your writing as a serious business. It involves time management, connections and correspondence, a budget, and marketing efforts. At the beginning of your writing career, you are writer, agent, bookkeeper, marketer, web designer, social media manager, and pretty much anything else you can think of. Today I hope to make that a little easier of a burden to bear, with 5 beginner tips for becoming a writer.
TIP #1 Setting A Budget
This year I entered short story competitions and I shall be doing so again. It’s a good way of getting your work out there and by writing to different guidelines, it expands your writing experience too. But entering these competitions can be costly so in order to do that I don’t go crazy with my hard earned cash, I set myself an annual budget and I stick to it. Not all competitions cost money, many are free to enter so I suggest checking websites by putting in Free Writing Competitions or something similar. So that is my tip #1, set a budget that you are comfortable with and that way you stay in control.
TIP#2 Maintain A To-do List
We all live busy lives and without my to-do list I would be running around in a panic. It is invaluable for my writing. Each evening I write my list for the next day such as, emails I must send/reply to, stories to send out, fill in my worksheet, phone calls to make/return etc. If I have not ticked off all on that day’s list I carry them over to the next day. If I have not completed a task and it has been carried over for two/three days then I make it a priority to be dealt with first on the list. The satisfaction of ticking off chores is delightful and it gives a sense of achievement at the end of the day. Of course to-do lists are not for writing only; it is a very useful habit to have to keep check of daily life in general.
TIP#3 Keep A Writing Record
I would be lost without Excel. On it I have entered the title of my stories, where I have sent them, Accepted/Rejected, Competition/Magazine, Payment/prize etc. So at a glance I know where each story is. There are many different programmes you can use, find the one you feel comfortable working with. If you find it difficult you can always use a large A4 book and using a double page spread, mark it in to different columns and title each column, then fill in the details beneath. It is another useful tool in keeping me organised and one that I would encourage any writer to have. Of course it works for submitting to agents or publishers, poetry, songs and plays also.
TIP#4 Always Say Thank You
In a fast changing world many of life’s little things can get lost. Saying thank you can be one of those basic little things. In connection to writing, I believe saying thanks is important. When I receive an email whether it is bringing rejection of my story/novel or telling me my story/novel is accepted, I like to reply with a thank you. By saying thank you, I am acknowledging the time and response that was given to me. I make a connection by doing this and if you are a nice person to deal with, you will be remembered. After all part of being a writer is building relationships and making connections. So whether it is a nay or yay, a thank you can go along way and it costs nothing to be nice.
TIP#5 Reward Yourself
Right, you have worked hard all week. You have been writing furiously, finishing that story/letter/poem and you have watched your competition budget and also entered any work that has gone out/returned into your records. You even remembered to say thank you. It is now reward time. You are entitled to a treat, some new lipstick/ magazine/CD/DVD or a cupcake or two, even time out to read or walk, meet a friend for coffee and a chat. It doesn’t have to cost money; it only needs to make you feel good for all your hard work. There must be enjoyment too from your writing apart from getting acceptances which is the best reward of all. So, little treats now and then encourage us to carry on through the tough times.
So there you have my 5 beginner tips for becoming a writer. As you can see, writing is filled with its own unique highs and lows, but with a little management, you’ll soon have a portfolio of work you can call your own! Happy writing lovelies, and feel free to ask about any and all things writing. As a published author, I understand the stumbling blocks more than most!