The beastly germs of winter have been running amok in my home for the last three weeks. Everyone has felt it, and it seems like forever since all of us were healthy all at the same time. Currently, I seem to be the lone holdout at this point with a cough that just won’t quit. I’ve been taking the medicine, drinking lots of water, and eating soup. It’s not helping.
So last night, as we’re getting ready for bed, my husband asks me, “Did you take your medicine yet?”
I growled. No, I had not. And, what was the point anyway because I was still coughing?!
[Cue the poor pitiful me music and sad face.]
And, then he half-stated, half-asked me, with a smirk I might add, “Well, you can’t quit now. You want to get better don’t you?”
Do I want to get better? Well, the sassy pants in me wanted to retort, “Um, Nope, I’m good, I’ll just keep coughing as my new pastime. Thanks.”
The beyond frustrated patient in me wanted to scream, “Of course I do. I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired…and coughing!”
But, the realist in me knew the truth, the real reason I hadn’t taken the cough medicine yet. Besides the fact that it tastes horrible and doesn’t feel like it’s working, the truth was I didn’t want to get it from it’s location in the kitchen, downstairs, where I was not. The truth was I had given up and was lazy.
Have you ever felt that way? You feel down, tired, ready to give up. You just don’t feel like it matters, like what you are trying to accomplish with life let alone your writing isn’t happening.
There are so many times we start comparing ourselves to that writer over there. Or, we read a helpful article, but tell ourselves that it must be so easy for that person, but doesn’t apply to us. Or, we use a myriad of excuses: I don’t have the finances. I’m not nearly talented enough. Someone else is writing what I’m writing. I don’t have the time to really dedicate to this hobby/project/side hustle/dream.
Yes, we may be tired [Hang in there Moms-of-Littles], or we may be too overwhelmed [I see you 9-5 Employee]. Basically, the truth is we get lazy and become our own worst enemy. We just throw our hands up, shake our heads over it, and give up.
But, you have to ask yourself, like my husband did to me…Do you want to get better?
Really, do you? Do you want to be a published author? Do you want others to read your stories? Do you want to see your dream or calling come true?
Because if you do, you have to set aside the excuses and reasons you give for not pursuing your goal, and, you have to take your medicine. You have to stop standing in one place and go after what you need and want. Nobody ever achieved their dream without hard work and long hours. Nobody.
Maybe you’re stuck because you really, honestly don’t know where to start. You need someone to simplify it for you and give you a to do list.
Well, you are in the right place. If writing is what you want to do, here are my Five Simple Ways to Actively Begin A Writing Career.
- Open a blank page (on the computer, a tablet, or journal) and just write.
Sometimes it just helps to get the idea on paper. Write it down. It doesn’t even have to be in complete sentences. It could be a saying, a piece of dialogue, a setting description, or research you find interesting. Up late? Set a timer, create a document, and type until the bell rings. Then, save it. Sitting in the carpool line waiting for your kiddos? Pick up a pen and journal book and write while you have a few quiet minutes. Get whatever is burning inside you on paper.
- Join a group for writers-local or online-and find encouragement with like-minded peers going through some of the same things you are.
There are so many options for this. So many organizations have local/regional chapters for you. Local colleges have creative writing classes. Libraries host meetings for book clubs and writing groups. Check your local book store, chamber of commerce, or even your community rec center. Options abound.
- Read. Read. Read. Whatever genre you have an interest in writing, read those authors and take notes. Learn about what makes the dialogue, settings, plots, and characters pop off the pages.
This seems obvious, yet it’s often overlooked. Do you want to write children’s picture books? Then, go to your local library and start checking out picture books. Passionate about cozy mysteries. Start reading the recommended cozy mysteries from your local bookstore. Want to get into historical fiction? Research, research, research and find a time period that really draws you in.
- Create an author website or blog. Keep it simple, but start to build an audience for your work.
This one might take a bit more effort, but you can still make a website fairly simply. Most authors use some form of WordPress these days, but there are fairly simple template options, such as www.weebly.com, www.wix.com or blogger.com, that offer a variety of themes to get you started. You’ll want a strong About Me page and a blog, where you should utilize a mix of posts about you, your story topic, your journey thus far, etc. Keep it simple at the beginning, but think about the future and try to grow with your audience.
- Attend one writer’s conference this year, again local or online. Learn from agents, editors, and authors about the simple tricks that can help you grow.
Conferences, conventions, and workshops can add up quickly in the cost department, so if you’re just starting out, look for events that are local or that are online and don’t require the expense of leaving home. These events are great for networking, practicing your elevator pitch, learning about new tools, and hearing from experienced authors who have been where you are now. Not everything will be applicable, but take good notes and use the practical advice that can help you move forward. Remember, one step at a time is better than remaining stagnant and taking no steps at all.
That’s the basics. These are the first five I think of as helpful for a writer who wants to get moving in a forward direction. Who knows, by this time next year, you could have a finished product, an agent, or even a published manuscript.
Oh, and if you’re sick, take your medicine. I did.