To review: I’ve looked at the first three already. Number one: read a lot. Number two: write every day. And number three: write what you know. Now it’s time for number four.
4. Find and develop a support system.
Writing can be a very lonely avocation. Most of the time, it’s just you and the word processor, alone in the room as you struggle to bring your work to the page. To make matters worse is the fact that, unless you’re unusually gifted, it takes years and years of practice before we become fairly good at the craft. Years before all those hours spent alone working on the craft might reward you with a publishable short story or article. Because of all that it is very easy to become discouraged, very tempting to just give up and try your hand at something else. That’s why it is so important to develop a support system.
Some of us are fortunate to have friends and family who believe in us and our work, to bolster us when we get discouraged and ravaged with doubt. There’s a famous story about a writer who’d sent his novel to something like a dozen publishers, only to have it rejected by each. He grew so disgusted, he threw the manuscript in the trash. His wife dug it out of the trash, cleaned it up, and told him it was a good novel. He needed to keep submitting it. He did. The novel was named Carrie and the writer was an unknown Stephen King.
For those who do not have such support at home it is important to find and nurture a network of people who will give you that support. The easiest way to do that is to meet other writers. They are facing the same challenges you are and understand the peaks and valleys in ways even your spouse may not. Join a critique group, if there’s one in your community. The local library or bookstore will probably know of any around. If there isn’t one, think about forming your own. Attend a writer’s conference. Many of them have networking lists available. Join an online group through Facebook or Goodreads. Take a class at your local community college.
Once you have that network of support, this writing life will become much, much easier.