Wednesday, 11 February 2009

How to get started as a writer

Whenever I talk to people about writing they always ask me how I got started. Most of them assume that I've done it all my life.

In fact I started my writing business 6 years ago when I was looking for something to take me into a retirement career. If that sounds a little odd, a retirement career I mean, I guess I'd better explain it. I wanted something that I could carry on doing, that I could do at home, and that I could make money from.

I don't know about you but I'm not that keen on a starving writer in a garret scenario. So where did I go to learn? Well whenever I try to learn something new then I look for people who are already successfully doing what it is I want to do. Then learn how they do it.

Because I wanted to write for businesses inititally I ended up with a correspondence course from American Writers and Artists Institute. And boy did I receive a shock when the course arrived.

This was a serious, down and dirty and hands on course. At first I was put off by some of the language. You know that Americans are more in your face than we are.

Then I realised, thank goodness that what they were offering me was priceless because if I could master what they were teaching me, I could write anything. Up to and including books. So I knuckled down and did my homework, my assignments and finished the course.

After that I took myself off to Florida to one of their workshops, or bootcamps as they called it. And they worked us hard for 3 days. But being in the room with so many other writers was such a buzz. And it showed me that it didn't matter what you looked like, where you were from, how old you were, writing as a career was open to you. If you had the will and the determination to succeed.

I met some great people there, some of whom I'm still in touch with. And there were some good speakers. Plus I still follow newsletters and updates from AWAI and their colleagues.

If you want a good resource for writing then I thoroughly recommend them. Reading their material teaches you the structure of good sales writing and even if you want to write novels, it shows you how to write strong prose.

I've recommended this material over on my Words For You blog which is my writing business website, but I'll repeat it here.

Early To Rise is a daily update about writing, sales, marketing and all sorts of other things. Of course it offers things to buy, but read it with an eye to the writing, as well as the marketing tips.

Copywriters Roundtable is a fortnightly email from one of the speakers at the Bootcamp. I like it because John Forde is a great communicator, funny and with a very open mind. His latest email received this morning includes 25 random things about his readers.

Whatever you want to write, you should be reading across a wide range of things including marketing material. If you're putting in the effort to write a book, then surely you want it to have an effect out in the world. If so, then learn how to make your book count.

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