I’ve been asked more than once when my book was getting published.
“I am not writing a book,” I said.
Yet, I am a writer.
There are many stereotypes attached to writers and the craft of writing. Not all writers are novelists and not all writers have an epiphany from heaven to create memorable pieces. Well, if they do, I haven’t heard of any. While writing, they also do not revel in silks and stroke a furry feline and neither are they constantly mired in their own thoughts and removed from the society. But we will let these ideas coexist with the fact that writing is one of the most versatile of professions.
What you need to know when considering writing as a career option
make a candid evaluation of your writing and storytelling skills first.
Do you have what it takes?
Are you a natural at this? Do friends praise you for your witty or insightful updates? Are you the default communicator for the PTO ? Do you always have a story running in your head while doing chores?
Facts for the aspiring writer
The good news first – you do not need a formal education in communication or journalism to get a job as a writer, though it helps. A flair for writing, good grammar skills and the default ingredient called passion are good enough.
Content that counts – Start with writing about what you know best to build your writing repository, whether it’s food, politics, health or parenting tips.
Options, options – Understand your style of writing and then determine which industry it fits best. If you have a science background and the ability to write a clean copy, you might consider the field of medical writing. An aptitude for descriptive renditions could open doors to real estate writing. There are numerous options in PR, Digital as well as Marketing, like ad copy and printed materials.
Showing it off – Should you have a portfolio? Yes, but you don’t have to be intimidated by the thought of putting one together. Weblinks to your published work or samples of unpublished pieces as attachments to your resume would do very well. Build writing credits one piece at a time.
Check out some of the best web-based portfolio sites for writers here.
Read: Writing as a Career Prospect for the aspiring writer.
How can you hone your craft?
Write! There is no other way to learn this other than to JUST write.
Drop everything and make notes when you get your ‘aha’ moment, and believe me, you will! At places and times, you might never imagine the muse will visit you.
Grocery receipts have come in handy many times for me. Phrases, memories, visuals, jingles, anything could lead to a full-fledged story. Just remember to jot them down the old fashioned way, using a pen and paper (believe me, this works), or send a recorded message to yourself in their absence.
The Notes App on most Smartphones is also a great tool. Do remember to file away all your divine or otherwise revelations later.
A writing career needs you to be informed and tech-savvy too.
- Read! You can’t be a good writer without being an avid reader.
- Set deadlines and stick to them. Oftentimes the longer you fuss over a writing piece, the worse it gets.
- Identify a mentor, partner to inspire you or co-write with and use Apps like Google Docs for shared work. For a free tutorial click here.
- Refine! Keep the piece aside and revisit after a day or so with a fresh set of eyes.
- Kill your darlings! Don’t fall in ‘forever love’ with a phrase, paragraph or a character. Every word in a short piece should serve a purpose. If not, delete it.
“When your story is ready for rewrite, cut it to the bone….”
—Stephen King, WD
The true mark of a good writer is a commitment to the craft, perseverance, and the ability to read, revise and polish until it reads just right.
So go ahead, tell that story. And remember – the worst thing you write is better than the best thing you didn’t!
Guest Contributor: Prachi Jain
“Reading and writing are such solitary activities but by no means make you feel lonely! Your characters are always with you. “
Prachi is a short story writer, mother of two kids, cook, cleaner, an errand girl with some unusual habits like blessing each airplane that she sees from her bedroom window. Weird? Yes, but that comes from her fear of flying.
Inspired by crisp writing like in ‘The Book Thief’, ‘Snow Flower and the Secret Fan’ and ‘Lean In’, she hopes to say more in fewer words. She talks about the nuances of writing and everything that goes around her on her Blog.
Her work has been published in Huffington Post, Brown Girl Magazine, Foliate Oak Literary, Goldfinch, Ascent Aspirations, Vending Machine Press, and has won an award on Six Sentences.
She hopes to see her name in the Best American Short Stories one day.