Lately I’ve been thinking about what makes a writer. I get emails with questions about how to put a manuscript together or what to put into a query letter or how to get editing services.
But I hear very little about the writing itself. Sometimes I get questions I can’t answer because I need to know more about what the person has written so far. When I ask, nine times out of ten the person has written little or nothing. They’re out there putting the proverbial cart before the horse.
Please don’t forget: whatever your book, whatever you want to create, you must address the writing. Maybe your book is fiction, maybe it’s non-fiction. Maybe you know you can’t write a word—and that’s good too! At least you know your first task is to find someone to get your ideas down on paper for you.
But one way or another, your book must be written before anything can happen. (If you’re seeking to get published traditionally, you’ll have to write a book proposal, not the whole book, but even then you need to submit sample chapters.) Nothing else matters at this point. I encourage you to find the writer in you. What makes a writer? Well, here’s the list I came up with. I’ll add to it as time goes on. Let me know what you think should be on the list!
1. Knowing you must finish what you write. Not finishing guarantees you won’t publish.
2. The desire to read as much as you can so you’re constantly learning what’s possible with language.
3. Knowing there’s a world of potential in what you’re about to write.
4. Understanding the magic is in the details–and a detail is more than just naming the brand of a car or a shirt.
5. Understanding this is a craft and the editor is not the bad guy (or girl).
6. There’s a story inside of you dying to get out–and you know you’ll absolutely love it when it’s done.
7. Knowing the work is good because you made someone feel something, not just because someone told you it was good.
8. Knowing that re-writing is just as much a part of your job as writing.
9. Understanding that words are magic and a willingness to strive to find the right ones.
10. The ability to trust that you can create something new and bring amazing work into the world.
11. The desire for that moment of connection when the reader sees in your work a feeling they didn’t have words for before.
12. Awareness & recognition of moments of grace, beauty & horror, and the desire to render them in print.
© 2010 Sophfronia Scott
Sophfronia Scott is Executive Editor of the Done For You Writing & Publishing Company. Learn what a difference being a published author can make for your business. Get your FREE audio CD, “How to Succeed in Business By Becoming a Bestselling Author” and your FREE online writing and book publishing tips at www.DoneForYouWriting.com.