A primary school student contacted me recently and said they want to be an author when they grow up; they asked if I had any tips. I boiled it all down to three things: read, write, and have fun. This may sound super simplistic, but I think these are ultimately the basics you need to have.
Note to aspiring illustrators: these tips apply to you too! Just replace the word ‘write’ with ‘draw’, and ‘author’ with ‘illustrator’.
Read lots of things. Read lots of different types of things. Even read things that you think you might not like (and even read things that you know you don’t like). The more you read, the more you learn about what kind of stories you like, but also about how stories work. And if you’re reading a story that you don’t like, ask yourself – why isn’t this working for me? What would I change to make this story better?
Write a little bit each week, just for fun, just for you. You don’t have to show it to anyone. Try writing things out by hand. Try writing things on a computer. Try writing different types of things. The more you write, the more you learn about WHAT you like to write, and HOW you like to write. You don’t have to wait until you grow up to be an author; you don’t have to wait until you are published to ‘be’ an author; if you write stories then you are an author.
3. HAVE FUN.
If this is your main aim then you can never really fail, and you won’t put yourself under unnecessary pressure in the creative process. But if your main aim is to sell a squllion books and get super rich and famous, then you’ll probably get disappointed! Also, if you’re having fun then it’s easier to persist and persist and persist until the work is done (because writing takes a loooooong time).
So that’s it – my three top tips for aspiring writers! If you’d like to read some more detailed advice, check out some of my earlier posts:
- Advice for aspiring writers and illustrators
- Tips for aspiring writers and illustrators
- 6 books to help you make better picture books
- 10 tips for budding graphic novelists