Since I was featured in the February edition of Writing Magazine, a few people have been in contact asking for my advice on how to get started. I’m no JK Rowling I admit, but I do write and I do get paid for it. So here are some of my thoughts and tips about starting and keeping on writing. And if all else fails, just follow what the wonderful Neil Gaiman has to say.
Write for yourself
I just started blogging for myself, people liked my style and it just snowballed from there. When I started blogging I didn’t expect anyone to read what I wrote. I wrote it for myself, to get things off my chest or to pour my heart out somewhere. If you write because you love it then you’ll not go far wrong.
Blog for the love of it
The best thing I did was start my blog, it’s worth investing £50 or so in getting your own domain right from the start, but write for yourself at first, about your life, things you’ve done, places you’ve been. Make friends with local bloggers in your area and get on twitter and search out review opportunities and interesting things to do. Eventually once you’ve built on this PRs may approach you to write sponsored posts, you can earn some extra pennies that way. But find a balance, if your blog is entirely reviews for freebies you’ve got and sponsored posts then it won’t have a heart and people won’t embrace it.
Find a mentor
Find a mentor or an honest friend who will read what you write and tell you the truth. I’ve got a couple of mentors and friends who help me immeasurably both in my writing and generally in terms of my career. Writing is pretty solitary, or it can be and having trusted but honest people you can bounce off is incredibly useful. Writing is like a muscle, you’ve got to keep exercising it, so write, even if it’s just for you.
Just go for it
I started writing for free to build up my published portfolio again after my extended break from writing, now I’m getting paid. Approach local magazines and see if they’ll commission a free article maybe. Once you’ve got a decent portfolio you can start scouting about for paid work.
I got “spotted” via my blog by an editor and now they send me to review plays and things, as well as writing general articles for them.
Sleep on it
Sometimes when I’m in the mood I can bang out some pretty decent stuff which I’m instantly happy with. Sometimes I might really struggle to find the right words. Whichever side of the bridge you find yourself, it’s always a good idea to give yourself and your writing a bit of breathing space before you click “publish”. So sleep on it, or leave it for an afternoon. Come back to it with fresh eyes and pat yourself on the back, or make the drastic revisions it needs to make it a piece you can be proud of. Don’t be afraid to scratch it and start again, if it needs it, it needs it. Oh, and write tight, don’t witter on, like I’m doing now…!
Always remember, if you write from the heart and honestly, then you can’t go far wrong.