Guest Post: How to become America’s next top writer

sleptawaycover.jpgI’m happy to share a guest post by Julie Kraut, author of the new novel Slept Away and co-author of Hot Mess: Summer in the City, for which I interviewed her for this blog. Julie is a great young writer and generous in her advice to aspiring scribes.  Here are her top tips:

There aren’t any reality shows about finding America’s next top writer.  And I’m not saying there should be.  I know that my writing process—sitting in front of a computer silently willing myself to focus instead of Google ex-boyfriends from college—wouldn’t make scintillating television programming.  But still, without a Simon or Tyra barking directives from the television, an aspiring author might feel left in a lurch when it comes to launching a career.  So, Lindsey asked me to write some tips on starting a writing career.  And while this is a tough request as there’s no one path to follow to writing success or specific way to guarantee getting published, there are a few writerly must-do’s when you’re getting started.

1. Write.
Writing is a pretty huge part of being a writer.  That sentence might read stupid obvious, but it’s a fact that writing’s easy to talk about and hard to do.  Having a book idea or writing aspirations is one thing, but churning out the pages to back those ambitions up is a completely different thing.  So put your fingers to the keyboard, pen to the page, or quill to the parchment, and get writing.

2. Share. As hard as writing is, sharing your writing can be even harder.  But you can’t get published if your work never leaves your hard drive.  So, don’t be afraid of other people’s eyes on your words or editorial feedback.  In fact, you should seek it out.

3. Read. Read as much as you can, and not just from the genre you’re writing.  Read everything from literary memoir to paranormal romance to the instructional poster about hand washing in your dermatologist’s office.  Inspiration and influence comes from everywhere and seeing how others are practicing the craft can be very motivational.

4. Toot. Toot your own horn because, to paraphrase someone famous and philosophical, if you’re not tooting your own horn, who is?  Let people know that you’re not just a writer, but an awesome writer.  Tell the world how funny/poignant/lyrical/thrilling your work is.  How else are they going to know?

5. Live. Writing is important, but so is having something to write about.  A story about a guy who stares at his QWERTY keyboard for eight hours a day and limits his social interaction to the pizza delivery guy and his cat isn’t going attract that many readers.  So get out there and learn and do and see, so you have a base of experiences from which to write.

Hope this helps and inspires writers out there.  And I’ll leave you with this insider secret: never underestimate the power of switching fonts to WingDings when you’re up again writer’s block.  Inspiration at its finest!

Click here to check out Julie’s new novel, Slept Away.

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