Want to be a writer?

I'm often asked by others how I got started and what it takes to be a writer. Like anything worth doing, writing takes a lot of hard work, discipline and effort, often with little pay or reward. While I always loved writing, I never sought it out - but I know it was God's design for me to write.

Let me share with you some of the tips I generally share with everyone who asks.

Get Connected

One of the first things I did when I left my full time job to write from home was to get connected with an online group for networking and tips on the writing business. I highly recommend  The Writer's View, which is an online writer's Yahoo group and which has two groups, TWV I and TWV II.If you are just starting out, I would recommend the beginner's group. This is a great place for getting writer questions answered, as well as networking with publishers and editors (and it's all free). I found my first agent through this group.

Study Writing. Read. A Lot.

Check out writing magazines (The Writer and Writer's Digest are a couple of the good ones) and books on writing (there are lots out there about how to get started and earn an income).

Freelance is always a tough business to break into, particularly in a down economy.  But visit Amazon and order a writer's market guide. These will help point you in the right direction for writing for magazines, newsletters, etc.

Like anything, writing for freelance is all about relationships. Get to know the publication you want to write for before you contact them. And in the meantime, write! Start a blog and start writing about what you care about or what is important to you. Tell your friends and family about your blog. You'll get some invaluable feedback which will help you as you work to perfect your craft.

Go to a Conference

Writers conferences are also great ways to learn and network with editors/publishers. LifeWay does one at Ridgecrest usually in May and there are many others around the country throughout the year. Just google writers conference or Christian writers conference to see.

You Want to Write a Book

If you've written a book or are in the beginning stages of writing a book, congratulations! The first step to writing a book is to start getting something down on paper. But that's just the beginning. The process of publishing can be very complicated and it is a marathon that many aren't willing to commit to. Whether you are writing fiction or non-fiction, you will need a proposal and the format will vary based on what type of writing you're doing. If you want to go through a traditional publisher, you will need an agent, most likely (though there are still some publishers out there who will take submissions from nonagented writers). If you decide to go the self-publishing route, you will at the very least need a good editor.

You Want Me to Read Your Book and Endorse It, or Read It And Offer a Critique

As much as I wish I could look at every manuscript or book idea that folks contact me about, unfortunately, in this season of my life, I am unable to do so. You are welcome to ask, but it is very rare for me to say yes. This is mainly due to where my priorities are at the moment - with my family, my ministry and my writing. I hope one day I can be a mentor to other writers, but I have much I'm learning myself and need to learn before I can share with others. My recommendation is to check out The Writer's View (mentioned above) for the information you need to get started.

This is a quick and dirty list of tips on how to get started as a writer. As I have time, I hope to come back to this page and add more tips as well as links that may help you. Happy writing!