Welcome to the start of a new series of writing tips, to be posted each Wednesday. If you would like to pen a guest post for this series, email me at ACBwrites@aol.com.
If you want to be a writer, then write. No matter how fabulous your ideas may be, or how talented you hope you are, writers need to produce written words. There is a popular belief that it takes around five years or a million written words before a writer really begins to come into their own. There is probably a lot of truth in this.
You may have attended umpteen creative writing courses and countless book conventions, read stacks of 'How To' books and bought state-of-the-art formatting software, but this won't make you a writer if you don't get on with the task of writing.
It doesn't matter if your early efforts are awful - everyone's are. Is there a successful writer who hasn't got at least one novel and a wad of short stories lurking in the back of a cupboard, which they never intend to share with anyone?
I wrote my first fantasy novel when I was aged nineteen. Its hero - hijacked from Celtic folklore - has to save the world from a wicked magician, and he also gets hitched along the way. The MS really is as clichéd and hackneyed as that sounds. It will never, ever, be read by anyone. Likewise, my early short stories read like Anne Rice, but bad. Some of this lady's outpourings are among my favourite novels, but like all writers I needed to stop impersonating my idols and start expressing my own ideas in my own way. Most writers go through a similar process.
During this process you'll produce some dreadful writing. But that doesn't matter. Or, rather, it does matter because by writing and then re-reading it a few weeks later and thinking, "Yikes! That's weak," and then patiently re-writing it, you will gradually improve your craft.
Maybe you are not new to writing. Perhaps you've been writing on and off for years but have never really settled down to creating a body of work. Establish regular writing habits, and this will change. There'll be more about work ethics later in this series.
Perhaps you have been writing for years and have experimented with various techniques, and have done all the things that stack of 'How To' books insist should be done, and yet still your writing doesn't shine? Maybe creative writing isn't for you. Try other forms of creative expression instead. It's ok to swap to something else. This is not failure; it's a process of discovery.
And isn't this what story-telling is all about - a process of discovery?