For today's post, B. Kent (@Vesdyn) has generously offered to share her writing experience and provide advice for new writers trying to find their identity. Dig in!
Every Writer Needs to Know Who They Are: They Need an Identity
So, you are a new writer. You are passionate about reading and writing. You are ready to take on the world. You’ve written a few things and you want to know, “Is it time to submit to agencies and publishers, or even self-publish?”
To every writer, but especially to new writers, I ask: Do you know why you write? Do you know who you are as a writer? Answering these two questions can and will change everything about how a writer writes. Motivation and identity are everything.
I didn’t grow up thinking I was a writer. Every writer’s story is different, I suppose. But, I didn’t like reading too much in my school years either. Of course, I had a few favorite fiction books. Yet, reading for school left me with a bad taste in my mouth.
Then, right out of high school, I got a job with Scholastic Books, Inc., taking phone orders for book clubs from school teachers. When there was down time, the only thing we were allowed to do was “immerse ourselves in company product”. Yes—books.
At this job, I discovered a whole new world of reading. As I grew up and life got tough, I discovered that I read more and more. One day, it occurred to me that reading was an escape for me. That’s why I read books, especially fiction.
A few years later, I was reading a tremendous fantasy series and the most horrible thing happened: it ended! I was so happy to read the ending and find some relief, but I was equally sad to see the world come to an end. In that moment, I thought, “If I could write books, my worlds would never end.” That was the first thought which led me to writing.
Then, as a faithful Lord of The Rings fan, I went to the first movie release by New Line Cinema, the work of Peter Jackson. I had read the books (at Scholastic) and loved them. But, the impact of the book on the screen blew me away. It was so powerful. I was so affected…and so was the rest of the theater.
That was it! That was the day I knew I wanted to write. I didn’t want to become famous. I didn’t want to become rich. I simply wanted to have impact in the hearts and minds of people in an awesome way; the same way I had been impacted. I wanted to change hearts, open minds, and provide an escape.
This is why I write. I write only things that fall in the area of “impact hearts and minds” and “open minds and provide an escape.” It is who I am as a writer.
New authors often write for years before finding their identity as a writer. This lack of a grounding foundation leaves their writing fluffy, flawed, and forgettable (even though none of them intend to do it on purpose). Many are writing to distinguish themselves or to get praise or to make money. They are writing for all the wrong reasons. These things come with good writing, but the good writing must come first and that comes with identity.
Without a foundation for writing, authors rush to their glory and omit learning their trade. They are more excited to get that acclaim or advance on royalties than to put something in the hands of others that really draws them in or changes their lives. A lack of identity leads many others to spurn criticism, avoid rewriting, and to self-publish sub-par work (one of the reasons self-publishing gets such a bad rap).
If you know who you are as a writer and why you write, then you will be true to that identity. You will write until it’s good. You will let others criticize and offer opinions and you will really listen—waiting for the gems of good advice that will enable you to chop, operate, sever, and sew up all the loose ends of an amazing story or book.
My advice to any writer wanting to grow, learn, get better, discover, rewrite, and self-publish is to find your writing purpose and identity. Know who you are and be true.
For more writing advice from this amazing author and editor, check out her blog at www.bkwritersblock.blogspot.com or her author website at http://authorbkent.com. If you would like to submit to the fiction newspaper she edits for, check out http://thebooktimes.com.