Research, Interpret, Write, Publish

It’s not uncommon for aspiring writers to think all they have to do is affix their thoughts to paper and they’ll be published. It doesn’t work that way, however.  I was first published in 1976, so have some experience.

Here are some tips worth considering if you’re interested in getting published.

  • Research what interests you. Whether you’re writing fiction or non-fiction, you’ll want to connect with your reader at some level. A good way to do that is to understand as much about life as possible. It doesn’t matter if you like science, art, history, sports, hobbies, or whatever. What matters is that you understand what you’re writing about because your reader will.
  • Interpret what you feel or observe. Regarding feeling, here’s an example: Everyone enjoys a pity party on occasion. But most people don’t write down how the experience feels. Pity parties aren’t permanent, which means the feeling goes away, but if you capture it in words while you’re feeling it, you’ll be able to use those feelings of failure or despair in your writing at some point. Regarding observation, here’s an example: Life offers us constant stimuli to engage our brains. When you see the person with a full cart in the checkout lane, do you seize the opportunity to watch the person unload the cart and try to figure out what each item says about that person’s life or do you scurry off in search of another line you can get through faster? If you do the former, you’re allowing yourself to observe and interpret. If you do the latter, you’re missing an opportunity to enrich your writing.
  • Write. During the years I taught my Writing for Fun and Profit series at two colleges, I encouraged my students to write something every day. I didn’t require a specific amount of writing in terms of number of pages or time spent, but I did tell them, “Writers write–and sometimes get published. However, you cannot get published unless you write.”
  • Publish. I can’t think of a more opportune time in history than we’re experiencing today for getting published. Getting paid is another matter. If you intend to become a professional (meaning paid) writer, you’ll need to do what every professional in a given career field does and that’s practice, improve, work at, and deliver what you say you can deliver.

How much do you love writing? Do you love it enough to work at it? To do your research? To interpret life as you see and experience it? To practice your craft? To persist in offering your work to those who will pay for it? Or do you want to write for the pure enjoyment of writing? There’s nothing wrong with writing for the sake of writing as long as you are honest with you about it. And there’s nothing wrong with writing to get published as long as you are honest about that too. Either way, remember that only you can write in your voice and say what you’re going to say. Happy writing!

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