Saturday, January 8, 2011


Last night was unbearably hot. I couldn’t sleep and while I was tossing and turning I realized something. I am amateur at writing! It is not a bad thing. Because I know why I say that.

Every aspiring writer has to answer one basic question. Who is your target audience?

What do I mean by that? Well simply stated, do you write for yourself or do you write to one day be a published author, thus writing for others?

I am an amateur writer because even though I have been writing for more than 10 years, I only started writing for other people, 1 year ago. All my previous work had been written by me—for me. I never intended for anybody else to read it and I surely never thought about ever publishing my work.

In December 2009 I finished writing the first draft of my first novel. I thought that it was good and that I wanted to publish it. My one sister insisted that I should think of pursuing publishing. I spent most of 2010 editing and writing up more drafts of the same book. I thought I was doing splendidly and when it was time for the querying process I learned how far I was off the pace.

When you write for yourself there are fewer rules. The only rule is to follow your own rules. Therefore, I always wrote long hand, thus, I never bothered to check spelling and grammar. I never needed to worry about the type of font or font size I was using. There was no need to know which genre I was writing for or who my target audience was. My goal was to write the stories I wanted to—how I wanted to—anyway I wanted to. So I guess I sacrificed a lot of technique and finer details in the end.

When I finally decided I wanted to write to be published, I thought I could get away with my previous approach of writing and as you know I didn’t. Writing novels fit for publication is hard. It basically pushes everything you did while writing for yourself, right out of the window.

Here are a few differences I noted:

  • I started writing my manuscripts on the computer.

  • I had to learn to add 1 inch margins to my entire manuscript.

  • Did I mention double spacing my manuscript for submission?

  • I had to know that I had to indent every first sentence of every paragraph ( go to Microsoft word—right click—go to paragraph—Go to indentation—Go to special and select first line).

  • I had to reintroduce myself to the rules of grammar and spelling.

  • I had to learn to edit and edit some more and when I thought I had edited enough, I had to edit again.

  • I had to learn more about the actual art of writing because till very recently I discovered I didn’t know much. I still have a problem with things like showing and telling, not to mention keeping in mind the different writing styles.

  • I had to learn to write a synopsis and query letter.

    The good thing is that I now know what I did wrong before and I can make changes. I can seek out ways to improve my skill level of writing. That, I think, is the best part about life. You are consistently learning new things all the time. Everything is constantly changing.

    I am even trying to find out more about publishing. I would like to educate myself. Before I just thought ''all I have to do is submit my novel, because surely someone will love it and then they will publish it! I will be a writer and I can live happily ever after.'' Man, was I wrong!

    So basically, if you want to be published you have to abide by the rules of the publishing world. And basically everyone is looking for well written ( polished and ready to go to print as is) manuscripts.

    And if you just want to write for yourself—not caring about all the publishing stuff...then good for you! Keep up what you are doing. Enjoy it and don't stop, not matter what.
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