My journey as a newbie writer begins

becoming a newbie writer

If you were curious enough to have read the About Me page, you will know my backstory for launching this website, simply put, it is to share my experiences as someone ventures into the realm of how to become a newbie writer.

But let me begin by stating unequivocally that I am not a writer, in fact my writing experience is strictly limited to blog posts, 1200 to 3000-word articles and dabbling with what I proudly refer to as short stories, but which authentic writers would in all likelihood label as gibberish—but it was a first step and I had thoroughly enjoyed the experience of storytelling, or at least my version of it.

However, in line with the concept of this website, let me go back to the very beginning.

About 3 years ago I decided to write a book, a nonfiction book, all about launching and growing your own home-based business. Easy stuff. I had years of experience to share both as an owner and mentor to other entrepreneurial start-ups and all I had to do was to use MSWord, turn it into an ebook and sell it on Amazon. How difficult could that be?

And so, over a period of around 3 months, I wrote 4 books detailing how anyone could go about starting their own home-based business. I even designed the book covers myself, used Word’s grammar and spell checker and sat back and surveyed my output.

Much to my dismay not a single copy was sold. I had a business-related website full of relatively popular articles and hints and tips on starting and running a home-based business;I shared these articles across numerous social media sites and similar communities and highlighted my books in each post. It made no difference. Not one sales, either through Amazon or my website—talk about devastation!

At the height of my new, but brief and not so illustrious career as a writer, I suffered a medical setback which brought an end to all my business ventures and for some time left me rather aimless and at sea both physically and emotionally. But after a suitable period of wallowing in self-pity, I finally came to the realization that I could either sit and mentally rot or I could get off my rear-end and do something constructive with my life.

Realistically I was not in a position to seek employment and many of my small business associates and contacts had moved on to greener pastures, so both those options were almost immediately ruled out.

My alternative was to look at work opportunities I could launch and manage from a home-based office which I enjoyed and would contribute to paying the bills. Internet marketing was an obvious option, but despite what many believe it is not easy or cheap if you intend to do it as a full-time occupation. Time and a reasonable amount of start-up capital is needed to enter many online markets, especially if you have no customer base to work with. I’m also a bit of an introvert and although Internet marketing did allow me to avoid face-to-face selling it just did not jerk any chains for me and my efforts were half-hearted and inept.

What could I do?

You’re no doubt wondering what this digression has to do with becoming a newbie writer. Allow me to elaborate.

I am an avid reader both of fiction and non-fiction and have been since I learned to read. It is my stress reliever and my go to when I need to just get away from life and all its challenges. Over the years I had started writing things down when arbitrary thoughts had come to mind, be they about business, life in general, local politics and economics (I quite fancy myself as an armchair critic on both topics) or just a story. I’d also enjoyed penning business-related articles and blog posts.

After my online fiasco’s, I began to ponder the prospect of becoming a writer-in-training. Could I turn a passion into a business? The contradiction here was that although I absolutely had the passion, I didn’t think I was any good at it. Following my own business start-up guidelines, it therefore was a non-starter.

Despite my logic telling me this was not a great idea and ignoring my own advice to newbie business entrepreneurs, I resolved to give it a go. I was going to find out if I could make a business out of writing and do it on the lowest possible budget.

Towards the end of 2018, I put my initial plan into motion. I purchased Scrivener believing that Word would be too cumbersome for writing a whole book and began plotting my initial manuscript. I felt comfortable that I knew what my first book was to be about, and, like my first attempt it would be nonfiction. And it would be on a topic on which I had some knowledge. I would share my personal perspective regarding the changes in South Africa since democracy, opinions I had already written short articles about. It also met my start-up requirements-knowledge and expertise supported by my passion to write.

And then the roof of my envisaged newbie writing world collapsed.

Along with the Scrivener software I purchased a course on how to use it. I dove into learning the software and discovered to my dismay there were words, phrases, tips and hints, and other writing related topics completely foreign to me. What was a Scene? Other than in its reference to stage plays I certainly had never encountered the word in the context of a book.

I started making lists of this new vocabulary and spending hours on Google and YouTube trying to understand their meaning. The outcome? I realized I knew as much about how to write and publish a book as I did about the mating habits of the Capybara rodent in the Amazon rainforests—nothing!

Fortunately for me I have always been a meticulous planner and researcher when taking on new projects and it was to these skills that I now turned. I had lots to learn and starting at the beginning was a good place. Onto the shelf went my idea of a first book and as I increased my base knowledge of the art and business of writing the viability of relaunching an old project began to take shape.

More about that in the next post.

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