I was contacted by a 12 year old boy asking me how to become a writer. Well, his exact words were “how do I become a famous author?”
But I’m guessing he more meant just a writer, because even though I do have two published books to my credit, I’m hardly a “famous” author 🙂 (really, how many Dan Furman books have you seen in your bookstore lately? If the answer is even “one”, it would surprise me.)
But anyway, as someone who strives to make the world a better place (stop laughing), I did my best to help this kid out. Here is my serious response:
Thanks for your note.
Well, I can’t promise any advice that will make you a famous author, but I *can* tell you how to be a better writer.
1) Write a lot. Every day if you can. It doesn’t matter all that much “what” you write in terms of genre. For example, I don’t write stories/fiction, and am still a writer. I honed a lot of my skill online years ago, participating in message forums. I would say find an age-appropriate message forum or two that discuss hobbies you have (sports, videogames, etc), and participate in the debate/discussions. This way, you can practice writing with some meat and conviction (facebook, Instagram (et al) don’t count – that’s nothing but basic fluff for a basic audience.)
2) While grammar is important, don’t get too caught up worrying if your writing is 100% correct. Look, you need to write the proper version of “there” (“their” or “they’re”) – stuff like that is a given for anyone who wants their words taken seriously. But personally, I use a lot of dashes, more commas than I need to, parenthesis, and fragments, all of which didn’t exactly endear me to English teachers (I was a C student in English). Your “style” and being clearly understood are more important than whether you have a fragment or not.
3) See #1 again. Writers write – it’s as simple as that. The world is full of non-writers that “dream” about writing. Don’t become one of them.
Best of luck to you.