The secret to being a writer

For a long time this wasn’t a secret that was made readily available to people. It was a deep, hidden truth that was not spoken about. But in recent years I have heard a few author talks where they spoke publicly and honestly about what makes you a great writer. And I’m going to reveal that secret here today. It comes down to this.

Write.

Yup. That’s it. Write today, write tomorrow, write the day after. Keep writing, and you will keep getting better. There is a bit more to it, of course. That’s why there are millions of books out there, and lots of courses, workshops and degrees. But it begins with writing. Regularly.

Okay, now here’s some of the ‘more’. Write with the right attitude. Once you’ve finished the first draft of your first novel, congratulations, have a drink, love your work but PLEASE don’t decide that’s it, you’re done, and start sending it out to publishers on the premise that you are so darned talented that the first person who gets it is going to snap it up. That way lies frustration and anger when it’s not snapped up by the first reader, or the second one. Authors with an established track record of published books edit their work. They don’t just decide that the first draft is perfect. They know that writing takes effort, a critical eye, and a willingness to keep doing the job until it is done. You are not doing yourself any favours if you decide after a first draft that the responsibility is now in the hands of the publishers to recognise how amazing your novel is, when the reality is the responsibility is still in your hands to get it to amazing.

So when I say the secret to writing is to write, what I actually mean is to write, then re-write, then re-write some more. Be open to recognising that writing takes work. Take the time to read through what you have written, with your brain open. Have the attitude that you want to be a good writer, not just a star, and recognise that that takes work. Oh yes, and one other thing. Read. A lot. But that’s a post for another day.