According to a survey of ISBN data from October 2013, more than 391,000 self-published books were released in the previous year, continuing an upward trend that displays no signs of slowing down. With the advent of the digital e-reader, aspiring authors have found it easier than ever to put their fiction out to the masses. Are you meant to join them? Here are six ways to know if your destiny lies in becoming an author.
You Read Voraciously and Write Regularly
If you’re an aspiring author, you could do worse than look to the advice of Stephen King. One of the most successful American writers of all time, King said, “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot. There’s no way around these two things that I’m aware of.” Talent will always be a part of the game, but intelligent people can cultivate true skill by reading and writing daily.
You Have a Vivid Imagination
It should probably go without saying that you need an imagination to be able to write books. That said, imagination is a lot like talent. It can be developed and cultivated. If you are following a strenuous reading and writing program, you’ll find that your imagination will blossom along with your talent. Why wouldn’t it? If you’re making up stories constantly, reading rich works of imagination daily, and feeding your mind with the images and landscapes that grow into great writing, it is an inevitable consequence.
You Possess The Ability to Be Self-Critical
The French novelist Colette once said, “Put down everything that comes into your head and then you’re a writer. But an author is one who can judge his own stuff’s worth, without pity, and destroy most of it.” Developing a knack for positive self-criticism isn’t meant to keep you from the work, but rather it is meant to transform a sloppy first draft into a better second one. To turn a mediocre second draft into a third that shines.
You Have the Heart to Persevere
It may be fourth on the list, but in many ways this is the most important trait for any author to possess. Ray Bradbury put it best: “You fail only if you stop writing…Any man who keeps working is not a failure.” Good writing comes from good working. You need only keep writing when you’re certain that everything on the page is cold, limp, and uninspired, and keep revising until you’re certain it isn’t.
You Can Dissect a Story
Most writers have had that beautiful moment where they’ve finished a book, set it aside, and thought, “I could write something much better than that.” That’s a nice feeling, but you’ll only know you were meant to be an author when you can outline how. At what point did the story take an unwelcoming turn? What about the characters rang false? What was it in the writing that made the book so awful? If you can answer these questions, you may have what it takes to do better.
You Have a Thick Skin
If you’re fortunate enough to have readers, you will also face criticism. Unlike the other traits outlined here, the ability to be impervious to scorn is not essential to becoming a writer. What is essential is the ability to take that criticism, filter out what you do and don’t agree with, and continue writing. If you have this ability along with the others mentioned above, there isn’t anywhere in the universe your writing can’t take you. Remember these six things the next time you experience doubt. After all, self-publishing can be challenging. We’re all human, and we all lose confidence every now and then. If you need some quick assurance as you pen your next work, remember that you’re meant to be an author, and that’s what matters!