Ten Ways to Move from “Wannabe Writer” to “Writer”

Quit wasting your life as a “wannabe” writer. Be the “is-be” writer.

That’s why we’re Writing All Wrong.

I’ve always wondered what it would take for me to move from “wannabe” writer to an aspiring—[DELETED]

—Lawrence Axelrod, Des Moines, Iowa.

Well, I scarce made it through that one without a volcanic rage eruption.

Let’s take it through the logical gauntlet. Am I paying any mind or insurance to an “aspiring” doctor? Good Lord, no. How about an accounting “wannabe?” Again, if you “wannabees” wannabe earning my coin, then you need to shed that tag and move into legitimacy.

Your motives, dreams, purpose, aspirations—they’re nothing until you make something of putting pen to paper, pure and purer. Here are a few gracious helpful nice things to keep in mind as you pursue the craft.

1. Shut up about what you’re going to write. Just do it.™

If I had a nickel for everyone I hear who writes more about what they plan to write, then I’d have a lot of nickels. 

2. Success is in doing, not dreaming.

I read a novel the other day, written by an “hopeful” novelist. Wait, no, that never happened. Come to think, I read nothing of the hopeful, the dreamers, the wannabes. I read those who “did it.”

3. “Having good ideas” is like spinning your wheels, only less effective.

Good to know you have some good ideas, chief. Mind paying me to do something with them? You don’t have good ideas unless you have them on paper. And even then, you’re still not writing about them. Turn the Post-It note into something of substance, or get lost. (P. S. – You can still pay me for them. Don’t toss them yet.)

4. “One of these days” = NEVER 

When you say you’re going to write about it/get around to it/write a novel “one of these days,” then you won’t.

5. In writing, you’re either doing or failing. There is no in-between.

Your writing might fill a molded paper bag in a rusted dumpster within a dystopian landfill, but at least you did something. May have sucked at doing it, yes, but that puts you a cut above the empty shelves containing the Collected Works of Brannon Pug-Ugly, Aspiring Novelist

6. Quit knocking lesser writers (unless you plan on taking them down with something better).

That’s self-explanatory. If you can write better, don’t say you can. Take two sheets of paper. Wad the first, stuff it in your mouth so you’ll stop talking. With the next, start writing.

7. Quit puffing and promoting other writers.

Because it’s an open tell. Getting the thrill of another writer’s acknowledgment of your over-the-top, effusive praise won’t do a thing for your craft. That’s not how they started, but that’s how you’ll never get started.

8. Writing thoughts > thinking thoughts.

You’re a relevant person. You’ve got a Twitter. Maybe even a blog. Cool. You probably think. And sometimes you might think about writing. That’s not cutting it. Enough of “thinking about writing.” Write one of those thoughts down and step out of the crib. Repeat. Make it a habit. That’s where “writers” begin.

9. Change the approach to “It would make a good story.”

How? Cut out the “it would” and stick with “make a good story.” Even if you don’t have the ability to write it. Maybe you should beef up and unlock that ability.

10. Stop kidding yourself. 

You’re not a writer if you are not writing. Quit deceiving yourself. You’re tagging yourself with a designation that does not belong to you. Yes, you might think, talk, speak, joke, sound, carry yourself about, and communicate like a writer, but you’re not. Unless you write.

Writing All Wrong can be reached via email (WritingAllWrong@me.com) and followed on Twitter (@WritingAllWrong).

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