How to survive as a newbie writer?

In 2018 December, I quit my engineering career of a decade long and took an absolutely crazy route. I decided to become a full-time writer; ever since life has been a roller coaster ride. During the last one and half years of my life as a newbie writer, I self-published three books and learned a lot of lessons on the way.

Here are my suggestions to anyone who wants to dip their toes in the creative world.

  1. Don’t put financial pressure on your creative writing. If you are a beginner and hoping to make money, it complicates things. When I quit my job, I had decent savings. I wanted to write fiction, but I didn’t expect it to pay my bills. Hence, I took up content writing tasks that will help me make some money and supplement my writing skills. When you look up to your creativity to feed you, you are adding pressure and constraints to it. Instead, look for supplement jobs to support yourself that might also enrich your creative writing.
  2. Don’t worry too much about developing a style. It’s too early for that. Don’t try too hard to find a genre for yourself. It’s great to have a style, but don’t push yourself too much. It will affect your capacity to experiment, your curiosity, you might dismiss things as silly or worthless. As a new writer, your primary aim is to connect with your readers, entertain them, enlighten them, or do whatever you want to do through your writing.
  3. You don’t have to be weird to be a successful writer. You don’t need to have a Bengal tiger as a pet or have spent a day in jail. You could well be wearing a suit and sitting in an office and still create fantastic fiction.
  4. In the beginning, pursuing writing seems romantic. You might be full of epiphanies and ecstasies. Get one thing straight. Writing is hard work. It’s haunting and suffocating. Some times it’s pleasurable, but most of the time, it’s pure pain to push out something creative. Then why do you stay in this field? Because you need to write to stay sane.
  5. Be open to people, experience, and opportunities. My first fiction writing prize came through a friend I knew from my content writing gigs. In my first year of a writing career, I said yes too many times more than I said no. It doesn’t mean you will always end up getting something out of it. But, as a beginner, you need to be open to the world around you.
  6. Don’t just pay attention to the art of writing. On the contrary, pay attention to things that has no connection with things you write. For example, go and watch how a barber is cutting hair, how a ballet dancer is doing a piece. That’s where unique ideas come from.
  7. Don’t seek perfection; instead, seek closure. If you sit in front of your paper or laptop and insist that every word that you write must be a masterpiece, you would sit there. If you are struggling to finish longer forms, try to finish shorter fiction. The bliss of finishing something is way too important than the bliss of being perfect. Perfection will come if you are patient.
  8. Show your work to other people, don’t be scared. I know it’s tough. I have been through my own nail-biting moments, waiting for people to read and comment on my writing. It’s scary, but that’s the only way you can grow as a writer. Be open to suggestions, criticism. Take in whatever you think right.
  9. Read. This must go on top of the list. But, none the less, it’s here. If you want to be a good writer, you need to read – religiously. Pay attention not only to the story but to the craft of the writer. How the writer portrays characters, create scenes, narrate a story. Have a keen eye for technicalities.
  10. Participate in competitions. I got a lot of confidence from participating and winning many fiction writing competitions. It need not be flashy awards. It could be something simple. It feels great when people acknowledge and appreciate your work.

Most importantly, hang in there. Write – day in and day out. Don’t believe in writer’s block. If you are really supposed to write, you cannot live without writing. It’s as simple as that.

Image Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

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