“Now that I’m retired, I’m going to write.”

“So, what are you going to write?”

“Well, um, you know…”

“Fiction or non-fiction?”

“Is fiction the kind that’s true or not true?”

OK, most people are more savvy than that but some are quite innocent of the writer’s life. They’ve heard, vaguely, that some writers have their work rejected by editors. But that, of course, only happens to other people. Their own ideas and stories, on the other hand, will be eagerly snapped up by editors competing to print them.

Yes, right. It exasperates me sometimes that some people seem to believe that just by thinking about it they can become writers. You can’t become a plumber or a brain surgeon just by thinking about it. It’s the same with writing. You have to research, read, practice, attend workshops, listen to what experienced writers (even those who have had some rejection slips) have to say.

You have to write in several genres to find which works best for you. You have to try out different ideas to see which actually hang together and make sense within an article format. You have to read about writing and read the work of writers in the genres and topic areas that you’d like to work in.

And it’s good if you hang out with writers in critique groups or in workshops and conferences. Are you brave enough to read your work aloud? Have you assessed your work as objectively as you can?

Before you call yourself a writer you need to have done some writing work – a lot of reading, some research, some learning. And enough practicing to be able to come up with a piece of writing you feel proud to share.