It's funny what people think writers actually do. Not all writers are able to write full time. While that is the dream of most authors, it is not the reality unless you have a name like J.K. Rowling or Stephen King, for example. Even those high-profile authors had to start somewhere.
After I published my first book, I suddenly had all these people around me telling me about the stories they were writing. I had no clue any of them were aspiring writers! They were closet writers, like I had been. They wrote when they could, sometimes going weeks, months, or even years between writing. This was exactly how I had been! Only my family, and friends who had known me for years, knew the truth about my love for writing. I had kept it hidden.
Why? I'd been writing since 10 years old, but I'd been too afraid to put myself out there for the world. Sure, I'd entered some short story contests, and I'd done well in every one I entered, but I didn't tell people about it. I sent off a few short stories to magazines, and received my rejection letters very quietly, alone. Then one day, I pulled out an old story I had started five years prior. Why hadn't I finished it?
Writing had always been my dream. It was something I loved to do, but I didn't share my stories, my passion. So, I decided I would finish a full-length novel. I spent three months straight writing.
The more I wrote, the faster I got.
The more I wrote, the more confidence I had.
The more I wrote, the HAPPIER I WAS!
Then I finished book 1, with an entire series floating on my brain (and on a thousand sticky notes). After writing came the hard parts. Editing, cover design, marketing, publishing, etc. All of that took another three months. Then I still had fear holding me down. My book was done, but had my closest family and friends read it? No. I wanted them to read it first, but at the same time I didn't. What if even my family didn't like it? Even though I knew I was going about it all wrong, I decided to just click publish. Quietly. Secretly. Then I promptly ignored it for 24 hours. Fear held me back, again. After a full 24 hours, I looked on Amazon and I already had a review. A random person saw my book, downloaded it, read it, and reviewed it all in one day! And they liked it! Confidence level high, I made my Facebook author page, website, Twitter, etc. and told everyone!
Now when other aspiring authors come to me, I feel like I have some wisdom to share. I certainly have a lot more to learn, and I've made plenty of mistakes on this writing/publishing journey, but I will help how I can.
One of my favorite quotes is "Never let the fear of striking out, keep you from playing the game" by Babe Ruth. I've loved this quote since I heard it, but it didn't really sink in until I applied it to myself, and writing.
Write often, and set goals for yourself. Stick to your goals. Finish your writing project, whether its a short story, poem, or full-length novel, finish it. Then edit. And most importantly, let others read it!
While others are reading your stories, READ a lot of books! Write reviews- because authors thrive on them! Be honest and be helpful. Then write some more! And above all, have FUN!