I have been paid for my words for thirty years. So, what’s my advice for aspiring writers?
Write Every Day. The idea of sitting down every single day and writing profound literary prose can be overwhelming. But screw the profundity and simply write every day no matter how bad it might be. You can fix it in the rewrite.
Back when I was working nine to five as a nonfiction writer and editor, I got up earlier to write fiction from 5 to 7 each morning. Consequently, I got my nonfiction writing done and still wrote five novels, two of which are still in print. If you want to be a writer, you've got to actually write, every damned day.
Silence Your Inner Critic. Do not listen to those critical voices in your head that say your writing is stupid, unreadable or pointless. Writing is a skill.
The fact that you can even do it means you are a writer.
Do not waste your time with critique groups. The visually-impaired leading the visually-impaired.
Don’t judge yourself or limit your creativity. Nothing is too ambitious.
Don’t tell yourself you can’t write a science fiction novel or that you can’t write a novel in three months. Do it.
Strive to improve by taking writing classes, reading books about writing, reading writing blogs and following writers on social media. Learn from the wisdom of the writers you admire. Learn from different writers by reading their work. Even if you read a book that you find to be poorly written, ask yourself what you can learn from it.
Keep Getting Better By Writing. You are never going to reach perfection as a writer. No matter what level you are at, there’s always something to learn. Strive to improve. I wrote a half-dozen books, more than a thousand articles, and several hundred blog posts and even taught 4, 125 students how to write their first novel and still, I learn more about writing every day. In addition, I learn new skills and go new places. I have lived all over the United States and I have used new activities, locations, people and cultures in my writing.
Don't Compare To Famous Writers. Compare yourself only to the writer you were yesterday. Don’t try to be the next J.K. Rowling or Stephen King. Everyone has their own unique experiences, their own perspective. No two writers will have the same stories or tell stories in the same way. Find the stories only you can tell, and write them down. When you’ve done that, keep writing.
Get Published Now. These days, you don’t have to submit to publishers or agents anymore. Today, through Kindle and CreateSpace and many other publishers, you can get published with little or no expense. Then the only possible rejection would be readers.
Write what you want to write, not what your parents or your friends or anyone else wants you to write. Write about the things that make you excited, things you are passionate about. Read the kind of books you want to write. I read a dozen mystery novels with female protagonists before I wrote my first novel. Read books that excite you and make you feel passionate about storytelling. I wrote my first novel because it was a story I wanted to read. So I wrote it for me and a quarter-million other people ended up reading it.