Many writers feel this stress that if they aren’t published anywhere, then they aren’t a writer. They worry they won’t be taken seriously. They worry that’s just a hobby and will never be anything more.
I want to reassure everyone that with the act of writing, and consciously sitting down to do it, you are a writer. It doesn’t matter if you haven’t been published, or you still have a day job, you’re a writer.
It’s up to you if you take yourself seriously as a writer. It can move from a hobby to a job. It can become something more than scribbled scenes, and half-written novels. The act of writing isn’t a science, it’s an art, but the only way to accomplish it is butt-in-chair.
My client Taylor Jenkins Reid recently wrote an article for Shelf Pleasure about how she wrote FOREVER, INTERRUPTED. There is no secret formula and no secrets all the published writers have been hiding from the unpublished ones.
If you take it premise by premise, word by word, and chapter by chapter the magic starts to happen. There will be days of epiphanies and there will be days of shredding. Some of the best writing advice on this topic is Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott–specifically, Shitty First Drafts.
Somewhere in the editing process is when you know if you have something. If you massage the text, ask yourself the tough questions, and learn what to cut and what to keep you’ll be on your way to a second draft, and a third draft. It’s isn’t ready to be seen by publishing professionals until then anyway. So take your time. Create. Get beta readers. Research.
Agents aren’t reading between the lines, we’re looking for outstanding storytelling. We want to be moved by the words on the page, not how many journals you’ve been published in.
[Image via Book PR Company; Shitty First Drafts via UCLA.edu]