I've been approached a lot lately by friends and strangers alike about my writing. People who, like me, love to write, but don't know how to get started. So if it's writing that fuels you, here are my top 10 tips for getting there.
1. Look for Local Clubs or Organizations. When I started out, I found the St. Louis Writers Guild. Here was an entire group dedicated to the craft I loved. I was intimidated, but I pushed through that fear and went to a meeting. It was here that I met some amazingly talented people who helped me take my writing to the next level.
2. Take Advantage of the Internet. Believe it or not there are people out there looking for someone like you. If you want to write, google "writers submissions" and the year. You'll get multiple hits for anthologies, publications and writing contests to which you can submit your work.
3. Just Ask. When I began freelancing, I picked up the phone and called established freelance writers and asked for their advice. What should I charge? How do I find clients? Believe it or not, most creative people love helping each other out. Everyone started somewhere, and we all love to pay it forward. My last year of college, there were several agency presidents and principles who came to speak to our classes. I would take their business cards and then invite them to lunch so that I could pick their brain. People love to talk about themselves! I would offer to write something for them - free of charge. It certainly fit their budget, and it beefed up my portfolio - a win-win! Nine years later, I'm in a position to help those just starting out. Hey, take me to lunch... I'll talk!
4. Start Small. Don't be afraid to write an article for a local newsletter, a sales letter for a local non-profit, or a blog post for a friend. Anything that gets your name out there, your words read and confidence up is worth your time. You'll be flexing those writing muscles in preparation for larger publications.
6. Speaking of Rejection... Remember that a rejection letter is a reminder that you are working at your craft. Everyone gets them (hell, Stephen King wallpapered his entire bedroom in them). Don't let one rejection letter stop you. In fact, let it drive you to send out two more submissions. I still get them, and I've kept every one of them in a file folder. They remind me to keep trying.
7. Market Yourself. Take advantage of the $0 price tag of social media. Share links to blog posts on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, pin published articles on Pinterest. Become a resource, share knowledge, and talk about what you do to anyone who'll listen.
8. Gather Your Peers. I could not write this blog post without mentioning my amazing WWWPs - Linda, Tammy, Lynn and Sioux. This is a group of talented, kind, smart writers who have helped me immeasurably. If you can find yourself (or put together) a critique group of peers who can help each other reach their goals, you're one lucky writer. I know I am.
9. Act Like A Writer. If writers have one thing in common, it's that we have a hard time admitting that we are, in fact, writers. We feel unworthy of the title until we reach a certain goal, a certain status. Bullshit. You write. You are a writer. Act like it. Get yourself an annual subscription to industry pubs like Writer's Digest (I really like this one - lots of helpful articles). Go to the bookstore and invest in the latest issue of Writer's Market. This is your bible. A big book chock full of every magazine, trade publication and publisher, with information on how to submit your work. And when someone asks you, "What do you do?" Answer: "I'm a writer!"
There are my top 10. Your turn writers - what's your best advice to those starting out? What's worked for you?