Time to Take Stock.
I’m going to give you a list of qualities and characteristics you will need if you are going to succeed at this writing business. It won’t be complete, but it will give you an idea of how well-prepared you are for the next steps. So go through this list and check off the items you can claim for yourself. Then we can start talking about them in more detail. And remember, it’s not just important to know what you can do. You also need to understand what you can NOT do.
1. What kind of a writer are you? How’s your grammar? Did you get A’s in English class? When you read a book, do you see other writers’ mistakes?
2. What about spelling? Can you use a dictionary, or are you one of those people who can’t look up a word because you don’t know how to spell it?
3. What about punctuation? Do you have a firm opinion about the Oxford comma? Do you even know what an Oxford comma is?
4. How’s your manual dexterity? Can you type? [I’m assuming you don’t have a private secretary to do your dirty work.] Can you type WELL?
5. What about other computer skills? Have you mastered Microsoft Word? [The answer to that is “No” because they just put out a new version and we all get to learn it over again!] Can you convert a document into a PDF file? Do you already have a favorite word-processing program?
6. Is your computer new enough to run the latest programs? And does it have enough memory to store several versions of a 100,000-word document?
7. Do you have access to a library? Do you have a library card? Have you ever used it?
8. Do you have a place to write, a desk you can call your own, not a corner of the dining room table?
9. Do you have the time to write? Can you look at your day-to-day schedule and identify some time that belongs to you alone?
10. Do you write because you can’t imagine not writing? Or does the idea of actually having to put words on paper scare you?
These are elementary questions, but this is where we need to start. What if your answer to some of these is “No!” That’s OK. You are identifying the areas you need to work on, not receiving a final rejection notice on your qualifications.
Take some time this weekend to think about your weaknesses and what you might do to correct them. Then next week, if you’re still around, we’ll tackle some other requirements.