Though none of us are new to the process of stringing words together, there comes a moment when we stop writing for the sake of a task and become writers.
I became a writer when…
My own moment came when our family purchased a computer and my mom gave me her electronic typewriter. I was so excited! I sat down right away and began typing a report (voluntarily) about black jaguars. But the love for writing fiction actually came from an assignment. We were moving from Hawaii to Colorado, driving the rest of the way from California when I became horribly ill. To help take my mind off feeling so gross, my mom had me work on a short story. And so, with incredibly bumpy handwriting I produced The T-Rex That Ate Pancakes.
Everyone’s story has a different beginning, but the point is…they all had a beginning. No one has sat down to write their very first story ever and ended up with a best seller. Like anything, writing requires practice, perseverance, and support. The adventure of being a new writer is very much like Frodo’s journey to take the ring.
Here are five ways to follow in Frodo’s footsteps as you progress as a writer.
- Surround yourself with people who will be supportive and honest. Frodo would have been very vulnerable to attacks, getting lost, and failing his mission if he had not had a good support system. While the bulk of your writing may be a solitary activity, you should involve others in the revisions. Your supporters need to be able to constructively tell you the truth when changes are needed and encourage you when you are discouraged.
- Keep moving and eating. It is so easy to dive into what we are working on and forget to take care of ourselves. You need to take care of your health as much as possible because the state of your physical health greatly impacts mental health, and therefore, your writing. If Sam had not pushed Frodo to eat throughout their journey, Frodo wouldn’t have had sufficient strength to reach the end. If you tend to get lost in your work, set an alarm to remind you to eat. When you’re stuck in the story, that’s the perfect time to do a few minutes of your favorite exercise—which is beneficial to your body and will usually clear your mind for new ideas!
- Network. Frodo enlisted help from others besides the Fellowship and you will need to as well. As important as your supporters are, they shouldn’t be the only ones involved in your writing life. You will need to branch out and form relationships with agents, editors, fellow writers, and readers. Editors will shape and polish your work. Other writers will gladly share tips and tricks and will cheer you on! Agents will represent your writing. And when you take time to connect with your readers, they will frequently share your writing with others. I strongly encourage you, especially as you are beginning to network, to attend a writer’s conference. Not only will you learn to improve your craft, but it is the best way to network.
- Check your work. There will be lots of revisions and multiple versions of your story. Though you should generally avoid editing during your first draft, subsequent drafts will be full of edits. When you hand over your work to an editor, it can be a little nerve-wracking. But, just like when Frodo asked Sam to carry the ring, Sam gave it back and so will your editor.
- Finish. This is the most important bit of advice I can offer you. It’s also the best part of the Lord of the Rings movies. The moment Frodo finally threw the ring in the lava; the moment you finish your book. Finish. Your. Story. No matter the obstacles you face, no matter how long it takes make sure you finish. All the hours of writer’s block and nights spent falling asleep on your keyboard will be worth it the moment to get to type ‘The End’.
Some will say that a “real” writer is published, or that a “real” writer writes every single day. While it is true that you should write something every day, what makes you a writer is you. Your love for words, your insatiable appetite for books, your desire for adventures and new fictitious friends—these are the things that make you a writer. Though your writing journey is still in the beginning stages, you are a real writer now.
Leilah Wright lives in beautiful Colorado Springs where she amasses books like a dragon hoards treasure. She is an editor at Novelesque and is writing her first novel. A true pluviophile, she is happiest on rainy days while drinking obscene amounts of coffee. When not working she enjoys time with her two children, reading, and catching up on shows. Keep up with her on her Blog and on Facebook.