Newbie Writer? Fake It Till You…Learn More

In this guest post author Tracee Lydia Garner shares her best tips for new writers looking to get published. 

It’s NEVER too early to start building your following.

I know you have absolutely nothing to promote. That’s not quite true, at the end of the day all writers and authors alike enjoy learning about the journey and process. Because while our journeys are different, our goals are similar. By opening yourself and sharing even your basic writing journal entries, you can start to create a group of people that are just curious about how everyone is making their unique way “in”. YOU are the ultimate product and you can start to share your message through blogging, vlogging, and writing articles for other places. Start to build a following now and it won’t seem so daunting when you finally publish.

It’s NEVER to early to start honing your platform.

Platforms are like college. You don’t really and truly know what your disciplines are until you’re 2/3rds of the way through it. And that’s okay.

What are you known for? List three things. What you list won’t be an actual platform but knowledge of these key things are what helps you zero in on what you’re doing (or should be), your focus, partly your likes/dislikes, what you write and finally what you present and the impressions you leave others with. Always give yourself freedom to explore before you refine your targets.

Strive to Know Industry Basics.

I’m still surprised by how many writers are unaware of industry leaders like Writer’s Digest, Writers Market, as well as a short cache of literary variety words and phrases that pertain to this business and your craft. You have got to take time not just learning to write but knowing and exploring who key people and places are in the environment you say you want to be a part of. Each day, look up and explore a new tool of the trade. Read a few publications, join a writers group and uncover resources that will help you grow and expand your own knowledge and depth.

Intern For a Busy Author or Other Writer-Types.

There’s nothing wrong with working for free. You could offer to be a beta reader, join an author’s street team or help an author with his or her promotions online. The important thing will be to set a time period so you’re not tied to this person forever and to establish a list of desired learning outcomes you want to come away with. What do you want to know? How can your experience further enhance your own writing and writing career? What are your current knowledge deficiencies that a published author could help you with? This author could later turn into a mentor for you that actually knows and has grown to understand more about your own goals and objectives. That’s a relationship that’s hard to build and hard to come by in today’s too busy world.

Read a Classic. 

There are some works that have been published over and over again for a reason. It’s not because they were the first lengthy prose ever written. There is a kind of universal appeal in the work and reasons why they have done so well. Why is that? Pick apart your own thoughts about the work after reading. How could what was written then still be applicable and relevant to today?

Seek to Work on Deadline or on Spec.

Authors with big contracts for their work have these contracts with a reasonable expectation that they will submit their work in the time frames established. They are under the gun for their work to be completed and submitted in the established industry standard format. To experience this take work as a reporter or investigative journalist simply to understand the pressure of producing ideas and creating copy with a deadline looming ahead and the kinds of problems, headaches and eventual triumphs that exist when or if you can’t deliver solid material on time. This is a good way to see if you still like writing at all and if you’re able to adapt well to imposed constrictions.

Join the Right Writers Community.

To say that there are millions of writers groups out there is an understatement. The addition of Skype, Google Hangouts and Facetime opens up even the extreme introvert to a portal of writers and writing instruction while still tucked safely in their abode. As you start out, you’ll spend years in this group or that one and eventually you’ll find a club of like-minded folks that simply “get you” and your style of writing. You will feel a sense of being of one accord and you’ll know as soon as you receive the intangible things you need from that group.

Try to test and decide sooner rather than later if a writer community is right for you and try lots of different ones initially. You’ll be able to move on more quickly if you look closely and evaluate how you feel and what you are achieving. Where are going? How do we treat one another? What’s the level of craft knowledge here? Am I growing and stretching? If it’s not for you, you won’t have wasted time trying to fit in where things just don’t resonate with you and where your writing excitement level plummets instead of soars.

Being an writer or author is full of ups and down that are rewarding and also can be discouraging. Get to know yourself and your own style better as a burgeoning writer by exploring some or all these ideas above. Enjoy the journey.


Tracee Lydia Garner is a speaker, private writing coach, adjunct faculty member, and author of seven books. She lives in the DC Metro area and works full time in health and human service. Visit to find out more about her work.

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