Every aspiring writer wants to know: what are the best practices for becoming a writer?
Greetings and salutations, writer-in-process!
My name is Diane Tarantini and I just published my first book ever: The Brave Knight. Huzzah! This accomplishment only took me 10+ years, but along the way, I’ve learned a whole lot about writing and today, I’m going to share my wisdom with you.
Lesson #1: Call yourself a writer.
Trust me, this is what you need to do: Call yourself a writer. Over and over. Fake it until you make it, as they say. Push through Impostor Syndrome. Do it afraid. If you need some extra help, read the fantastic book, The War of Art.
Pro-Tip: Get yourself business cards saying you’re a writer, wordsmith, storyteller, etc..
Lesson #2: Write.
There’s a difference between writers and wanna-be-writers. Writers write.
As most writers will tell you, it’s all about getting your butt in the chair and words on the paper. Ever hear the saying, “Practice makes perfect?” It’s true.
With that said, I’m not sure if I agree with the oft-quoted advice saying you must, “Write every day.” I know writers who don’t write every day. However, they get their butt in the chair and write 3,000 words every Saturday morning. To me, that works. Find what works for you.
Lesson #3: Find a tribe of writing friends.
In February of 2009 I attended my first writers conference in Colorado Surrounded by people who spoke “my language,” I heard the proverbial heavenly choir sing, and it was glorious. Four months later, I attended the West Virginia Writers conference, and what do you know? The WVW workshop leaders taught the same concepts. At one-tenth the cost of the Colorado event.
At the West Virginia Writers conference I met people who are still in my writing tribe. Who still teach me new things about writing, who encourage me often. Like your friend and mine: Cole Smith.
Lesson #4: Learn how to write.
Trust me, if you don’t spend time and effort learning the craft of writing, it’ll show. I can read one page of someone’s writing and know if they’ve spent time trying to improve their language skills, or not. Your use of vocabulary, sentence structure, dialogue tags, character development (or lack of), all communicate to the world if you know what you’re doing when you put pen to paper.
Pro-Tip: Always be reading excellent books. In his book, On Writing, Stephen King strongly advises writers to read great books. Every day.
Lesson #5: Get a writing mentor.
At my first West Virginia Writers Conference, I met my first writing mentor: Karin Fuller. We’re still very good friends. And I still send her stories and press releases and blog posts to tweak.
Years ago, Karin encouraged me to start submitting my work which led to me getting published. Fuller, a newspaper columnist for decades, encouraged me to apply for a job as a lifestyle columnist. And I was hired. I’m so thankful for her friendship and mentorship.
Chris Fabry, author of over 80 faith-based books, has been another writing mentor of mine along the way. Fabry attended Marshall University with one of my brothers. Knowing he was a successful writer, I’ve emailed him with writing questions through the years. During the pandemic he graciously read my memoir manuscript, then email-introduced me to not one, but two, high-level literary agents. I am so grateful for his wisdom and experience.
Lesson #6: Write with excellence.
Recently I’ve been saying this about my children’s book, The Brave Knight: “I know I’ll write more books, but I’m not sure I’ll write a more important book.”
What sets The Brave Knight apart in my mind is the fact I have more confidence in this project than anything I’ve ever produced. I love the story, the illustrations, and the resources in the back of the book. I also love that the story came to me fully-formed, only ever needing a minor tweak. If you’ve been writing for long, you know that’s a gift, and a rare one.
I say this to encourage you to write so well you have nearly unshakable confidence in your stories and how you’ve smithed your words. When you have 100% assurance your book is excellent, promotion is easy.
Want to hear even more best practices for becoming a writer?
Stay tuned for part two, coming next week.
Diane Tarantini is an award-winning writer with a slice-of-life blog and a brand new children’s book titled, The Brave Knight.