Grasping for the Wind recently did a post on Five Things Every Aspiring Author Should Know.
I agree with most of what he says here, but I do have a few quibbles and comments.
1) No, you should not demand a Special Writer Cocoon (or a gazebo at the bottom of the garden, or anything else like that) in order to be able to write. I’ve been guilty of this many times – it’s less that I need a special place to write, and more that I keep telling myself I need uninterrupted time to write. Frankly, my dears, if I had uninterrupted time, I’d sleep. I don’t do that very much. I need to stop thinking that way, and start writing in the five or ten-minute chunks I can steal from the rest of my life.
No, my quibble here is that you need to write on a computer. Eventually, yes, you’re going to need to type things up…but if you like writing longhand, do it. Whatever gets you writing is good, and if that’s scribbling in crayon in a composition notebook, or writing beautiful cursive in a custom-made notebook, so be it.
2) No quibbles here. Do NOT write for the money. You are not JK Rowling or Stephanie Meyer or Stephen King. You ain’t gonna get that payday. I wish I could offer my authors that sort of payday, but the truth is…nope, ain’t gonna happen for the vast majority of writers. Do it because you love it, and because if you don’t share the stories in your head, you’ll simply explode. That’s the only way to make this writing thing worthwhile.
3) “weather report, fashion report, travel report.” Oh god, it’s funny because it’s true! I love stories that start in medias res; one of the best openings I’ve read lately was in Rachel Aaron’s The Spirit Thief, where we start out as the main character is trying to talk his way out of a dungeon…in a most unusual manner. How’d he get in there? How’d he come across the ability to talk to inanimate objects and have them answer him? Great hook for the story, right away.
4) Write like your nationality. Erm, not always. I’m sorry, but I’m an American and I write…like a Canadian. With a little Brit thrown in for good measure. It’s my personal style, and I’ve never had anyone tell me it’s jarring. Yes, it’s absolutely jarring and awful when people start throwing about terms like “lift” and “boot” and “tarmac” when they have no idea how to use them, and crowing “Jolly good pip pip!” because it “sounds English,” but that’s more an issue with jumping on the bandwagon (ie, British boy wizards sell, so even though I know nothing about Britain, I shall write about it!) than writing in a national flavour that you are not.
5) Totally true. There’s no time limit on being an author, or being a successful author. Just write, and keep writing, and edit, and keep editing, and submit that sucker (when, and only when it is ready).
Mostly, just write. Then edit. Everything else is secondary.