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November 19, 2012 / mike54martin

So You Wanna Be A Writer

A friend recently wrote to me about his 14 year old daughter who wanted to be a writer. He asked if I had any advice or suggestions to offer her. Here’s what I sent back.

I have been a writer all of my life. Sometimes it was little scraps of a story on the back of my exercise book. Other times it was a little bit of poetry that described the highs (and mostly lows) of being a teenager. I knew from a young age that I would like to be a writer but didn’t have a clue how to do it. Most of the time these pieces of writing were locked away, burnt, or otherwise held in secret. I was terrified that someone would find them and gulp… read them.

So I kept my writing hidden for a long time, letting out a little tiny bit here and there, to people that I loved and/or trusted. To my amazement almost everybody said they were pretty good. That felt good but it still took me many years to reach out past those trusted few people to share my stuff with the world.

As I began working I kept both writing and finding jobs where I could write as least part of the time. This meant writing business correspondence, policy papers, items for the company newsletter, editorials, even speeches. I came to enjoy these parts of my jobs much more than anything else and I knew that I was supposed to be writing more. So I did.

I fell in love and wrote tons of love poetry. Sappy, heartfelt, drippy, but quite lovely poetry. I shared it with the woman I loved and she was very, very happy with me. I also started writing short stories about Christmas growing up and shared them with my family. They were surprised but also happy with me.

Then one day I realized that I had become a writer, just by writing and sharing and I decided to take a chance with the rest of the world. I sent off a little piece to a magazine and they accepted it and paid me $25.00. Amazing. Then I send out a hundred more pieces and nobody bought, not one. But I kept going and sold piece # 101. I haven’t stopped since. To date I have published thousands of articles and blog posts in magazines, newspapers, and on-line publications in Canada, the United States and New Zealand. I have published two books and I have my third being edited for publication next year.

What a thrill to go into my local Chapters and see my book on the shelves. Or go online and see it on Amazon or Barnes and Noble or Books a Million… whatever that is.

So you wanna be a writer? You already be one. Just say it out loud. I am a writer.

You wanna write a book? Look at my blog post here:

Write, a lot. Every day. Share, a lot. Especially with people in the business. They will tell you if they like it or if they think it’s any good. But you will learn to know what is good and what isn’t yourself. You probably already do. Don’t be discouraged. Your work will be rejected. Hundreds of times. Thousands of times if you are lucky enough to write that much and live that long. Keep going and be the best writer you can be.

Send me a copy of your first book.

Mike Martin is the author of The Walker on the Cape, a Sgt. Windflower mystery.

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