In the first of a series of articles, one of Tor’s top writers, Neal Asher, gives you his advice on how to become a writer.
Quite often, when someone finds out what I do for a living, they tell me they want to write a book. Cynical thoughts then pass through my mind: no, you want to have written a book, you want to be capable of writing a book, you want a bestseller and loads of that apparently easy money washing around the publishing world, to give up the nine-to-five job and be an author. ‘Then write a book,’ is my answer, to which the reply is usually a pained expression.
The other question I get asked is by the person who has actually sat down at a computer and started, who is actually converting thoughts to written words and gone beyond thinking I want to be a writer in the same way that some think I want to be a millionaire, or Brad Pitt, or President of the World. This question is, ‘Do you have any advice?’ ‘Can you tell me what I need to do to be standing where you’re standing?’
The reality is simply: a writer writes. You see, there is no special, easy secret route to success. The difference between someone who can fill in a postcard and someone else who can write a novel is the difference between someone who gets out of breath climbing the stairs and someone who runs a marathon. It is hard work; a lot of practise, determination, slogging away and never giving up.
So if you want to be a writer, then write! Do it every day. Keep a journal, a blog, keep putting down those words. Eat, sleep and breathe writing because, in the end, you may be able to achieve the twenty-mile slog, but there are others in the marathon too and you can guarantee the front runners have been working harder than you.