Thursday, 19 January 2017

9 Things I've Learned About Being a Writer

Here are some of the things I’ve learned since I got serious about being a writer.

  1. Write. It’s so easy for life to get busy, and you think you’ll have time later. Write every day, even if only for 5 minutes.
  2. Live. On the other hand, don’t get so immersed in being a writer that you shut yourself away. You need your family and friends. You also need to experience life in order to write about it. You don’t need to experience everything you write about – I don’t think I should murder somebody just to make me a crime writer – but when you’ve lived a little, you know about love, hope, fear, despair, anger, laughter.
  3. Believe in yourself. If you write, you’re a writer. Start claiming it. Tell people, when they ask what you do, ‘I do xxx job, and I’m also a writer.’
  4. Believe in your writing. Instead of chasing agents and editors, you can self-publish and keep control and much more of the money. But you will not have that validation that someone qualified thinks you are good enough to publish. Learn all you can, make your writing the best you can, get a professional editor to look at it, and then believe in yourself and publish. It’s a great feeling.
  5. Keep track. However you like to organize yourself, you can soon lose track of what you’ve written, what you’ve edited, who you’ve queried or spoken to. You also need to keep track of your income (hopefully!) and expenditure. However simple or sophisticated you want to be, find a way to keep track.
  6. Make contact. You have potential readers out there, who don’t know you exist. Even before you publish a book, make friends. Get on social media and link up with like-minded people, however you want to do it, and start getting known.
  7. Learn. Every opportunity you get. Learn about writing, publishing, marketing, self-promotion. Some of it eventually sticks if you hear it often enough, and make notes.
  8. Welcome constructive criticism. Find the right people to show you how to write better. Keep seeking to improve. Author Belinda Bauer said, ‘You may never be a great writer, but you can’t get worse.’
  9. Never give up. There will be all sorts of reasons for giving up. If you’re a writer, don’t listen to any of them. Even if no one reads it, if you write, you’re a writer.

Ann Marie Thomas is the author of three medieval history books, a surprisingly cheerful poetry collection about her 2010 stroke, and the science fiction series Flight of the Kestrel. Book one, Intruders, is out now. Follow her at

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