I’ve been part of many writers groups on various social media platforms. A favorite question that pops up again and again is: “Can I be a writer?” Here is a checklist of three questions you need to ask yourself to find out. If you can answer Yes to all three of them without blushing, you can definitely be a writer!
Question 1: Do you like reading?
Read, read, and then read some more. If you don’t like reading and haven’t already read a bunch of books (no matter what genre), writing probably is not for you. By reading other authors’ work you learn by assimilation.
Keep a pencil or marker handy because you will want to underline stuff that’s important to you. Having gone digital, I read ebooks on my iPad. It’s real easy to mark sections that way, too. I also have a file where I put snippets and ideas that catch my attention.
Read with an open mind and the intention to learn. There’s a lot of things going on in a well written book — and that’s not even counting the plot. There’s the point of view from which the author lets you see the story. There’s the language and use of dialog. And then there’s the way things are described, how your senses are engaged, the imagery that conjure up rich, detailed scenes in your mind that you can touch, see and smell.
And if you aren’t a reader yet, it is never too late to start. Go grab a book now!
Question 2: Are you disciplined enough to get things done?
Writing a book is not a sprint, it’s a marathon. If you don’t pace yourself and lose track of the final goal, you’ll never make it to the end. You will start all fired up and motivated, writing like a madman.
Soon enough you will hit a rough patch. The going gets difficult at times, call it writer’s block or whatever. These are the periods for which you need determination and self-discipline.
Set yourself a goal for how much you are going to write each day. Set the bar really low, ridiculously low, but stick to it religiously. No excuses.
I set my bar at 250 words per day, and I allowed myself two days per week off. And I write no matter what. There are days I hate what comes out and other days I love myself for the slick prose that flows effortlessly from my fingers. Point is: don’t get hung up on quality too early in the game; consistency is what counts.
Question 3: Can you deal with rejection and frustration?
Let’s face it: chances are your first work will get rejected by agents, publishers or the general public. You’ll get a lot of negative feedback along the way. Are you quickly discouraged or can you take those opinions to make your work better?
If you get discouraged easily, chances are you’ll throw in the towel before your first published work.
These points are the most important ones. Notice, that nowhere did I mention that you have to take creative writing classes or be the winner of a spelling bee contest. These things you can learn on the way. You can always take an online writing class, or attend a writing workshop in your area. And your computer’s spellchecker is your best friend when it comes to getting the right letters in proper order (I use Grammarly).
You have to start writing
and stick with it.
But you absolutely do have to start writing and stick with it. You’ll write a lot of bad stuff in the beginning, but by continuing, you will get better, believe me. Just think of it as getting the bad words out first to make the good ones flow.
So what are you waiting for?