Let’s face it. While there are guides on writing, none of us ever started off writing after reading manuals. Most of us simply started writing, winging it, learning along the way. No one told us what we’d need to write. It seems like you should be able to just...write if you want to write...right?
Wrong! You need stuff. Some is knowledge. Some are tangible objects. Some are not. But you need them, and I’ve cut the list to the top five.
A community. So you’re an introvert? And a writer? Wow, wouldn’t have guessed that one...sike. We’re all introverts, bud. But whether or not you want to do the work to get into/build one, you need a community if you want your writing to be successful. Networking doesn’t have to be mixers and conventions that make you have panic attacks; there are other ways to build a community. Want to learn more? Good, because that’s next week’s post.
Style guides. You need to know what kind of writing you are doing, and the style guide it requires. If you’re writing a novel or literary book, you’ll use the Chicago Manual of Style. If you’re writing academic, you’ll use MLA or APA. Journalism, Associated Press. Yes, you need the latest edition. It’s mandatory, and you, as a writer, are expected to know (or at the very least follow) the rules.
A schedule. Work from home? Awesome. But you still need a schedule. In fact, you need a schedule more than someone who doesn’t work remotely. All that free time at your disposal can get away from you quickly when you get caught up cooking, cleaning, watching Youtube videos...next thing you know, the day you planned to use to write for eight hours has shrunken into three and your workday is gone. Set a work schedule that you will follow. Make yourself leave to do work if you have to. But set regular hours for yourself to work so you’re reaching your goals and you know those hours are for work only.
Word processing software. Luckily, now we have free word processing software like Google Docs, but it is best to use your money (when you have it) for Microsoft Word, or something that has more customization for spacing and formatting. While you’re at it, it’s worth your time to learn some basics of pagination. Ever seen a page that ends with one word on a line, or starts with a stand alone line? Can’t think of one? That’s for a reason.
Intuition. Obviously this isn’t as simple to obtain if you don’t have it. But writer’s intuition develops like a muscle you flex. As you read, write, and submit more, your intuition for what needs reworked, what needs to get scrapped, and what is immediately going to get picked up improves. My best advice for a good intuition about writing is to stay in practice, and read, read, read.
There are some other things you need (like a copyeditor), but this list will help you do a lot with a little.
Have a suggestion? Let me know in the comments!