The Steps to Becoming an Author

Keith White, Student Editor

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The world of writing is a place that not only entertains the reader, but in many instances also inspires readers to write. While the life of an author can be a complicated and difficult one, you don’t have to be a young Shakespeare to write a book, it just takes a bit of thought, some determination and a little inspiration. In this article I can give you some pointers to help you on your way. So now let’s answer the question: How can I become an author?

Inspiration: With a hope to be an author myself, I’ve learned that the first step is to find inspiration. The first idea is the gateway for the whole story to follow. And it can come from anywhere. 

In Ralph Fletcher’s book Breathing in, Breathing out: Keeping a Writer’s Notebook, he says, “Many writers use some form of notebook and consider it an essential part of their creative process.”  Keeping a place to hold your thoughts throughout the day can mean the difference between finding a book idea, and losing one.  

An important aspect of writing a book is to make sure that the ideas you use are your own. If your idea can be identified as someone else’s you’ll end up in trouble. If you find yourself stuck, you can always ask friends and family for some help and opinions. That lightbulb moment of inspiration might just need a few more hands to help screw it in. 

Some people argue that starting to write anything is the hardest part, but don’t let that control you. Take the advice of Ernest Hemingway, who once said, “All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.”

Plot: After you have your inspiration, it’s time to put the pieces together. While other people will tell you how to put a story together, you have to remember that you need to find your own way. I discovered that I work best when I create the main elements of the plot, then create the rest of the story around that. Also don’t be concerned with changing the story at this point, it’s better to get your early thoughts down on paper before you might forget them. 

Mr. Francis Halish, a science and math teacher at Windsor High School for the past 35 years, had three items published in the Windham County Poem Anthology in 1988. On writing, Mr. Halish says “If it’s something you’re passionate about, it should come easily.” Mr. Halish’s success shows that as long as you have the desire, publishing your work is possible. 

Editing and Revision: When you finally have your first draft, the next step to go through is the editorial process. Here you fine tune your thoughts and make sure that what you’ve written is the best it can be. If you’re looking for professional help, you can contact an editor and have him or her do the work for you. But if you don’t feel comfortable with someone else handling your work you can always self edit.  There is another instance where you can still ask other people for help; you can join a group of fellow writers to share and critique each others’ work. 

But there are a few important things to remember about the editing process. You need to be prepared to hear criticism.  This might make you feel insecure about your writing, and even angry, but this criticism can help you patch up and improve anything that you might have missed. Also, you need to be prepared to rewrite. Being an author is a cycle of writing, editing and rewriting; just take it at your own pace and you’ll be fine. Finally, the most important part of editing is that you remember that you have control over everything. No matter who or what changes your story, if you don’t like it, you don’t have to keep it.

Encouragement: Even if you think you have everything set up perfectly, there will always be problems to face. Many writers are plagued by “Writer’s Block,” the condition of being unable to think of what to write or how to proceed with writing. No one truly knows what causes it, but it can be extremely frustrating. As you try to clear up Writer’s Block, it might be hard to get back into writing. Then there’s always a possibility that if you don’t like what your writing you might feel disheartened. I’ve personally been through both of these situations. The best idea is to talk to someone close to you and tell them how you feel. Let them give you some words of encouragement and let them see what you’ve written so far. If you don’t think that will work then just take some time away from your writing and come back to it after you’ve refreshed your mind and body.