Ten truths I’ve learnt about being a writer:

I am but a baby-writer, so there will be no profound words of wisdom based on decades in the business here. But I did want to share what I have learnt on my adventure so far:

  1. Reading books on writing will not teach you how to write. What they will do is tell how other writers write and what works for them. You have to find your own voice and methodology. As far as I can tell, there is no right or wrong way to do this.
  2. Agents and Editors are not monsters. They are, in most cases, really nice people who work extremely hard. They want to find new authors and novels that will make money. They want to give you a chance. So don’t be a weirdo and don’t annoy them. Be positive and professional at all times.
  3. Publishing is a business not a theatre for artistes. At the end of the day, you need something that balances creativity and originality in a package that will appeal, yield good sales and make money. Be an artisan to your craft. Work at being the best writer you can be and forget the theatrics and the feather boas.
  4. “The harder you work, the luckier you’ll be” and “you’ll never know until you try” are two mantras to live by. It is highly unlikely that book deal is not going to fall out of the sky and into your lap. You have to make these things happen.
  5. You cannot be a writer if you don’t read. READ. Read widely. Read like a writer.
  6. Just as a shopkeeper cannot be a shopkeeper if he has no wares to sell, you cannot be a writer if you don’t write. Write every day. And if you can’t do that, do at least one writer-ish thing every day, for example, research, editing, attending workshops and so on.
  7. If you are a chicken, you need to hang out with other chickens sometimes to remind yourself of the fact that you are a chicken. [Insert the word “Writer” in place of “Chicken” where it appears]. Writing is a lonely job. You need to make friends with other people who write.
  8. Blogs, social networking and other online resources are free. Use them.
  9. While being a writer must be one of the best jobs in the world, writing is hard work. Don’t have any illusions about this fact. Don’t decide to become a writer because you want to make money or because you like the lifestyle. Become a writer, because you are in love with the act of writing.
  10. Lastly, always say to yourself: I am a writer. It’s not just something I do. That means, you are a writer 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 and ¼ days a year. Never forget that. And never give up on the dream.

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