by Katherine Reilly
A few days ago, one of my students told me that when she grows up, she wants to become a writer like me. I was honored by her heartwarming confession. Being a positive role model for someone and in this case my students, is not something to be taken lightly. When a person looks up to you, it’s not only a privilege, but also an obligation to help him in any way you can.
So, what makes you a writer, and a good one at that? There are no rules that you must follow to achieve this, however, some of my personal experience might help you.
The first thing a potential author must do is to never neglect to write an idea down. I remember the first time an idea popped into my head, I wasn’t even sitting at a desk. I was out with friends. I grabbed a coffee napkin and wrote it down. This happened on a few more occasions and it was then that I decided to carry a notebook and a pen with me, wherever I went. Were all my ideas good? Of course not! Some of them though slowly developed into the main plots of my books.
Don’t be afraid of dismissing ideas. The fact that you later realize that your initial enthusiasm might have been misplaced, doesn’t mean you are not good at thinking stuff up. Everyone has ideas and story conceptions. The secret is to reevaluate them at a later point and decide for yourself if your original ideas are worth developing. I have literally thrown a whole book away since my feelings towards the end were mixed. Being able to judge ourselves is the key factor to improving our abilities.
Don’t ‘force’ yourself into writing. Have you ever heard of ‘writer’s block’? The inability to come up with ideas to write? This happens to almost everyone! I myself had this experience and tried to force myself to produce a few chapters. Trust me – bad idea. The human mind is a machine and needs to be turned off once in a while. If we are not in the correct mindset or are overworking, the end result is bad to say the least. After a month of pondering on what to write in a single chapter, I once again found inspiration and finished five chapters in less than a week. As for the previous one I wrote under pressure? I threw it out the window…
Start with something simple. Don’t get in over your head. Set feasible goals such as short stories or chapter books with simple narrations. I firmly believe in the idea of setting high goals, but in due time. Writing a 400 page novel as your first attempt isn’t something I would recommend. You slowly climb the ladder and your experience will dictate what you can handle. Remember, everyone has to start at the bottom.
Don’t be afraid of being judged. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again. Writing is a privilege. The expression of our souls. The externalization of our feelings and ideas. A part of ourselves. When we share this part with the rest of the world, we should be proud of it, as it is the heritage we leave to future generations. No one is ‘born’ an author. Experience and patience makes us better. We shouldn’t be afraid of being criticized, as there is no one who will judge us more severely than ourselves. If you understand this, there is nothing to be afraid of.
And there you have it! Some personal ideas as an author. Everyone has the ability to create something beautiful. You just need to believe in yourself and never give up.