How to become a successful writer

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Writers frequently post to Twitter, Facebook, and other places asking whether there is any how-to-write book that gives the best advice on writing and being published. There are as many answers as there are writers to answer the questions. Everyone, it seems, has an opinion.

Here's my guarded opinion on the best book on writing: There isn't one.

There are some fine books of advice about writing and the writing life. I frequently recommend Bird by Bird, by Anne Lamott The title is an image of Lamott's description of literally how to write. You'll need to read the book to find out what I mean, but it's a worthwhile endeavor, in my opinion.

I also recommend Rita Mae Brown's Starting From Scratch: A Different Kind of Writer's Manual. Brown's excellent book deals not only with writing but with the day-to-day issues that surround it, such as eating and paying the bills.

And Stephen King has tossed his hat into the ring, with On Writing, which is hilarious, covering King's experiences.

All of these contain plenty of anecdotes and wise advice for writers at all experience levels.

There are also those authors who claim to have THE one and only answer to becoming a writer and getting published. The actual truth, however, that as soon as you put your thoughts, opinions, and stories to paper or computer, you are already a writer. No one needs to tell you anything more. You've gotten through the hard part on your own.

If you are seeking a single path to success, that's a different story, because no one has one of those. The best they can tell you is what worked for them. If you look for a magic bullet, you won't find it, and anyone who claims otherwise is a shill.

The only path to real success is one that all professional writers know: Write the best work you can. Rewrite the entire thing if you have to. Polish it until it glows. Have a professional editor look for places that need improvement. Listen to the editor's advice and consider it Make and carry through as you see fit. Then send it out, ONLY when you are certain it's the best work you can produce.

The result is out of your hands.

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