WHERE WRITING BEGINS

Did you ever wonder how some authors got their start? Ever think that it looks easy, the way they wrote books and soon had them published? What are you doing to get your career jump-started?

It’s true that most writers begin by writing the great American novel. They are venting, getting something off their chests that they simply have to say (write). Most times this is not something that will ever be published. I always tell new writers to go ahead and get that out of the way, get it said, done, finished. Then put the manuscript under the bed or in the attic or wherever it can gather dust. That’s if they seriously want to become a writer, it is now time for them get down to the business of becoming a writer.
Oh, yes, I’ve written that GAN. We all have, at one time or the other. One in half a million may have gotten published. But you want to know what actually kicked off my writing career? It was a request by a local Craft Center to interview and write profiles of craftsmen who were consigning their work to the outlet. Three newspapers ran the column once a week and the current writer had to quit. Would I be interested? I was. That job led easily to the next, which was to become a stringer in my hometown for a large daily in the area. A stringer is someone who writes stories about the area, they are paid by the column inch of published material. Often the stories are assigned, often the stringer goes out in search of them. I did pretty well for myself there because about the time I took the job, the local school began to fight consolidation with a larger district and monthly fights were a regular feature of the school board meeting.
Because I gathered up my 35mm camera and took some photography lessons through a local writer’s organization, I was able to sell more and more stories with pictures, for which I was paid the grand total of $5 extra for each one used. By this time, the writing bug had bitten me big time and I was grinding out novels. I wrote three that fell into that category of under the bed, but my fiction was improving. At this point, I credit local writing groups for helping me more than anything else. Up to that point, it was the process — the writing — that I enjoyed, and I had no desire to get into the business of having my fiction published. I was working for newspapers without a journalist’s degree and I loved it.
Meanwhile, back to the nonfiction career. I began to take the advice of these fellow writers, and wrote and had published quite a few magazine articles. Thereby, building my platform, which I hadn’t even heard about at that time. Then one of the newspapers that had previously published my first columns, the craftsmen’s profiles, advertised for a feature writer. My mother pushed me into applying for the job, and I had it immediately. The editor who interviewed me had been reading all my articles and columns. I remained with that newspaper for 9 years, going from feature writer to City Editor before the paper finally folded in 1999. The editor and I went on to start another newspaper for which I still write today. Only a column now, though. I don’t go out and chase stories anymore.
Soon after being hired by that newspaper, I sold my first novel. That because I had continued to attend writer’s organizations and network. I learned how to pitch my work, how to write queries, how to write synopses, how to rewrite and polish my work, all from these fellow writers who belonged to the various organizations.
And that’s the way to do it. There’s no easy way, no quick way. There are no starving writers toiling away in a cold, dark garret until some publisher discovers their work and magically they are million dollar sellers.
Oh, sure, it happens occasionally. People hit the lottery occasionally too. My advice, get started small and work your way up. Most important, network, learn, practice.
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About veldabrotherton

I'm primarily a writer, but I also speak and teach workshops and co-chair a large critique group. My brand is SexyDarkGritty and that applies to my western historical romances, mysteries, women's fiction and horror novels. After almost 30 years in this business, I still have something to learn and attend conferences to network with other writers, publishers, editors and agents.
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5 Responses to WHERE WRITING BEGINS

  1. It is always so wonderful to hear about how someone gets to where they are. It is also refreshing to hear about all the hard work, time and dedication it took — it makes me feel better about where I am in my own journey. Thank you for this post. I adore reading your blog, and obviously, this was no exception.

  2. Sheila Deeth says:

    It's great to read how real writers get started. I just wish I was better at nonfiction. But I'm working on book reviews, working my way up to articles maybe.

  3. 電話 says:

    Since it is the early worm that gets eaten by the bird, sleep late.............................................

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