I have a few more things to say about getting started (what?? it’s almost like I’m procrastinating). I talked last time about taking yourself seriously. But how do you actually do this? Here are five easy ways to start becoming a writer.
-Create space in your life for writing. For some people this may be as extreme as quitting the day job, for others it will mean carving out time before or after work, at lunchtime, or on the commute. It might mean making childcare arrangements for a set amount of time. It could mean going on a retreat for a few days. Whatever it takes to get some time and space in your life. You can also try methods like the Pomodoro technique to get things done in even very short periods of time – fifteen minutes is enough!
-Make a public intention of what you want to do. Secret dreams have a way of remaining secret- forever. So think about signing up for a class, or a writers’ group, or even just going to one-off panels and events. There are lots of these (try bookshops for a start) and many are free. Start telling yourself and others that you want to be a writer and you might be surprised at how things begin to gather momentum.
-Start getting to know the industry. Go to events where agents are speaking (the York Festival of Writing, Get Writing, or another writing conference for example), follow people on Twitter, try your best to learn how things work in publishing, and above all READ. Lots of prospective writers don’t read anything recently published, but you really must if you want to understand what’s selling at the moment. Luckily, this means that kicking back with a book is a totally legitimate use of your time.
-Put some effort into it. Get a decent desk set up. Do you need a laptop stand, mouse, external keyboard? Don’t do what I did and work at the kitchen table for years (my trapezium muscles will never forgive me). Invest in a decent laptop and/or a nice notebook and pen. You will save a lot of time if you’re not messing about with an ancient computer that crashes all the time. When you have limited time, you need to be able to open the laptop and go.
-Treat it like a business, even if you’ve not made any money from it. start backing your work up as a matter of course- don’t find out the hard way how easy it is to lose things. Most writers have some kind of horror story about leaving work on the tube, or on laptops that get stolen or blow up, or on USB sticks that go through the wash. I use Dropbox, but you could also email it to yourself regularly and use an external hard drive. You really can’t be too careful! Save yourself the 3am waking-up-in-a-cold-sweat. Also, boring as it may seem, it’s not too soon to think about taxes. At the very least start saving the receipts from any work-related expenditure. And if you enjoy such things, go wild with the organising files and stationery.
Congratulations, you’re now a writer who means business. Now all you have to do is write the actual book! Easy, right?? If you don’t think so, follow this blog, where I’ll be taking you through the steps of writing a novel.