You know what I mean. We write and we put our words on paper. No matter what kind of paper that is or if it’s even real paper in the first place. The same question pops up anyway. How do I go from writing to becoming an author?
Today is Author’s Day and I want to give you my humble opinion about that question. You’re free to disagree, as always.
Okay. If you look it up in the dictionary, an author is someone who creates a written work, right? So the first idea we have is this: if you want to become an author, you have to write a book (and publish it). That’s it.
Could you just be the author of an article or an essay or a poem or a play? Yes. Sure. I’m the author of Beard Between the Lines, a 5-year work in progress in the form of a microblog living in a social media platform and now evolving to a more structured blog where I published hundreds of short articles, stories, and entries about reading and writing. Sounds fancy, right? But you know it’s not really what we’re talking about here.
We’re talking about becoming the authors we read. A Twain, a Brontë, a Dickens, a Machado, a Joyce, a Marquez. Whoever you admire and whoever wrote the pages you turned so eagerly and made you fall in love with reading and then writing, and made you admire their styles and wordsmithery. You read them until you told yourself: wow, I wanna be like them. I want to be an author.
I’m gonna tell you something I believe. Some people will say that you just have to sit and write a book to become an author. I’m not an author yet, but I don’t agree it’s just about sitting and just doing it.
I did that four times and I stopped at one half or two-thirds of the process because I knew I was lacking something. It wasn’t about having impostor syndrome, nor about perfectionism, and it wasn’t a lack of self-confidence or anything like that. It was the mere realization that to become an author, you don’t just sit and write. You have to develop certain skills. Educate yourself enough for that and build the author in you. I don’t believe in mediocrity and I don’t believe in just doing it and seeing what happens.
To become an author, the one you admire, like I said, you have to do more.
Writing is just a part of being an author. I mean, sure we have to work on our writing skills and become excellent communicators and convey our ideas and everything effectively through our words. But it’s not enough.
We have to learn how to tell stories. That’s an art and a skill we have to develop. Creative storytelling is the essence of good books. We have to produce something that will engage our readers, hence we need to master storytelling.
We have to develop the ability to do research. Because we can’t just rely on our minds and memories to write. We have to learn how to use researching as a way to acquire better skills, as a way to enrich our stories, and to check if what we’re saying and writing works or is right.
Then, you can’t just believe that sitting in front of a computer or typewriter will make you an expert in people, life, places, and everything. So we also have to go out and observe people and places, live, and not only that, we have to develop the power to naturally watch and guess the better as possible what’s going on. Plus, we have to learn how other writers observed people, and I’d say it’s not a bad idea to learn some concepts of psychology, sociology, and philosophy to enhance this skill a little bit more.
And finally, you have to create courage, because you can write anything you want, but when you write from the heart, you expose yourself. And that’s scary af. We become vulnerable, we’re naked in front of our readers. They will judge us for our words, ideas, and the way we express ourselves and that is awfully daunting. But we can’t let that get to us. The fearless expelling of words inside our hearts is the final skill for us to become real authors.
I would add a final thing here. Maybe too much. But I think real authors have to live a writer’s life to the fullest. We must breathe writing, read a lot, use every little moment and person and thing to absorb a certain material to our craft. And we must behave and live in a way that makes it natural to our characters and personality to write and to act like an author.
I know. I haven’t written a single book yet. What do I know? I’m writing it right now. But I’m not an author yet. So, maybe everything I’m saying is just a romantic view of becoming an author. Maybe I’m wrong. But that’s what I believe.
And I have that feeling because I wake up every day with reading and writing running through my veins and punching the electricity inside my brain. I sip my coffee thinking about stories and how to improve my craft to become an author. When I work, as a lawyer, I think like a writer who needs to communicate clearly in his contracts and opinions and everything.
There’s a LONG way ahead of me as I believe there’s a long way for you too. But we will become authors. And I think that developing those skills I mentioned above is a good way to start this journey.
What do you think?