Wednesday, 12 September 2018

How To Start Your Writing Career Today!



I get asked by a lot of newbie writers - HOW to become a writer, and while this is a very complex question - I've tried to condense my answer to 4 main points.



1). Decide what it is you really want to  write.

Whether you're an aspiring blogger/screenwriter/novelist - pick the area you feel MOST passionate about and start there.


 You want to build your confidence and get your work out there into the big wide world, so give yourself the best possible start!


A great first goal to give yourself is by writing a short story, or aim to enter a competition.
  • Start with small goals that are achievable and won't overwhelm you. 
  • Any writer will tell you it's a career full of many highs and lows, so be prepared to ride it out because this is not an overnight success kinda career.
  • Do it for the right reasons - WHY do you want to write this *insert script/book/blog* ? You have to be passionate about what you're doing, because if you're not it translates and that makes for a crappy script/blog/novel. 

2) Find Your Tribe

Find other writers out there that you can share with - advice, queries, success and failures - it's all SO much better when you have others who understand the same struggles. 


Join a local writing group, or better yet an online writer's group! 

There are some fantastic Facebook groups out there so get searching. These groups are FULL of writers of all levels, so you will get an unlimited amount of helpful advice. 

Personally, I am a fully fledged member and moderator of Lucy V Hay's  Bang2Write group!

Benefits of a writing group:

  • You can share the highs and lows with people who 'get it'
  • Get valuable feedback on projects before you submit them elsewhere
  • Part of a community - writing can be a very solitary career! 

3) READ WHAT YOU'RE WRITING


The amount of times people complain they are too busy to read - especially a book or script in their chosen genre. It's crazy! Stephen King was right, if you don't read then you can't write!

  • Get your hands on scripts (Shore Scripts have LOADS) and start taking notes. Watch lots of film or TV in your chosen genre, read books in that genre - whatever you're writing KNOW it inside out.
  • You must know your market - if you're writing a horror spec, WATCH current/recent horror films. Take note of what works/ what you didn't like etc. 
  • Give yourself the best possible chances by finding that gap in the market and HOW you can give the audience something they've not seen before. 

4) Look For a Mentor or Internship and get Experience

There is no yellow brick road of clear guidelines and steps to making a career as a writer. 

It's overwhelming for a total beginner to hear that - I remember I used to ask my University professor how to become a writer once I graduated, and he'd smile and tell me to just write. 

AS IF! 

But, cliche as it sounds - it's true. 



Work on your craft - write, make mistakes and keep pushing through. Some days you'll want to throw the laptop out the window and that's okay. It's NORMAL! 

The idea of doing free work often ruffles a few feathers - personally, I've had a lot of experience through INTERNSHIPS and have absolutely loved it!

So If you can - I say GO FOR IT! 

The benefits of doing an internship are HUGE - and most are do-able around a full-time job (something I've always done).

ALSO - I have taken internships in MANY different aspects of the industry: inc. social media for screenwriting blogs/ entertainment and PR and script reading. You might think that as a budding writer, you won't gain anything from taking internships in such departments. 

WRONG, WRONG WRONG!

You want to come at this with a multi pronged approach, add more strings to your bow as such! A writer can be many things, you can gain so much from understanding the behind the scenes and make some amazing connections & friends along the way. 

Benefits of an Internship:
  • Experience -  Too many consider internships 'beneath them' on their way up the writing ladder and therefore, do themselves out of some first-hand once-in-a-lifetime tips and experiences. Don't dismiss the idea of interning, often they can be a huge advantage in this game!
  • Networking skills -  Take your name and brand seriously - so what if you're a total newbie?! You want to make a career out this, you treat it like a job. Cultivate RELATIONSHIPS with the people you work with. It's a much smaller industry than you think, don't go burning bridges with unprofessional behaviour. 
  • Contacts -  People will be aware of any superficial social climbers, so be GENUINE. Be interested and create long term relationships with the people you meet!
  • Confidence - You will be tackling new challenges and learning so many new skills. GREAT! This should encourage you to put your name and work out there, AND it gives you credentials for when you move onto your next stepping stone. Good for the CV and for your WRITING!
  • WOM - (Word of Mouth) If somebody can vouch for you being a hard worker/ competent and skilled writer/ pleasure to work with then WOM is a powerful thing and will help you along the way. Bear in mind, this is equally true of anything negative they may have to say about you. 
MENTORING:

Reach out to your chosen *potential mentor* with an email - explain a bit about yourself,  pursuing a career as a writer  etc and would really appreciate any time they may have to speak with you. 



BUILD A RELATIONSHIP

A mentor is NOT there to hand it all to you on a plate, they won't. 

Of course not, and why should they! You need to do your own groundwork etc, BUT if they see you as a hardworking and passionate newbie brimming with potential, they WILL take the time to give you some golden advice. 


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