When I first considered making the leap from romance reader to romance writer, I immediately brushed it off as a silly inclination. After all, who was I? I was a nursery teacher and an avid reader, and in my mind, that did not an author make. So, back I went to merrily reading on my lunch breaks, in my off-time, and anytime I wasn’t actively engaged in conversation—and then sometimes even when I was actively engaged in conversation. (Sorry Diane, but how am I supposed to comment on last weekend’s weather when Lady Emmaline and the Marquis are moments away from getting down to business? I’m going to need five minutes.)
As time went on, the thought of writing my own book became more prominent with every romance novel I devoured. I would inevitably ask myself, what kind of story would I come up with if I was writer? If I was a writer, what would I have done differently here? Finally, I gave in to my own curiosity and wrote a chapter. Was it cringe-worthy? Absolutely. Will it ever see the light of day? I sincerely hope not. But it was something. And it irrevocably proved that if I wanted to write a romance novel, I could, and that goes for you, too! You are entirely capable of making the bookishly wonderful switch from romance reader to romance author and these are the five tips that I would recommend to anyone who is ready to make the journey.
5 Tips for Making the Switch from Romance Reader to Romance Author
1) Believe and accept that you writing a book is one-hundred percent possible.
I’m someone who can fully attest that imposter syndrome is very real. My first published book is about to debut, I’ve just finished my second novel, and I’m still waiting to feel like a “real writer.” So, if you’re delaying writing because you’re waiting for some moment of clarity where you suddenly feel talented enough to write, just know that you might be waiting for a long time. I currently still am. What you have to do is take that hesitation and write your book anyways. You’ll never know what you’re capable of until you try, so charge up your laptop, look in the mirror, and tell yourself you’ve got this.
2) Start writing.
This might be the most difficult stage. You’ve already taken your courageous first step in rightfully acknowledging that your dream is achievable, but now you have to stare at a blank Word document and get to work. To start things off, I’d suggest you create an outline or a character breakdown first, or anything that makes you feel more confident and equipped for approaching your project. But what’s most important is getting those first words on the page. They may not be perfect, but you can’t edit what isn’t written. Oftentimes, it’s in the rewriting that your story shines, and that’s why laying that initial groundwork is pivotal. Have fun with it, set time for yourself to write every day, and enjoy the ride of seeing where your words will take you.
3) Keep reading. If writing is the hardest part, then this tip is definitely the most fun.
This is where I encourage you to read as many books as possible within your chosen genre of writing. Whether you’re gearing up to pen a steamy Regency romance or a humorous romantic comedy, it doesn’t serve you to then go on a sci-fi reading bender. You want to see what books are out there in the arena of what you want to write, plus it’s always beneficial to see what’s selling in the current market. But it’s also important for you to start reading with new eyes. Of course, it’s wonderful to get swept away in a gorgeous story, but now’s the time to really notice what tools writers use to draw you in. Take this opportunity to re-read some of your favorite romances, but this time, read them like an author.
4) Get social.
I can honestly say that I was floored when I first experienced the astonishingly kind and welcoming comradery that is the writing community. If you reach out to ten authors or aspiring authors on social media, there is a solid chance you will hear back from half of them. The reason being, all of them have been in your shoes at some point, and in my experience, they are very willing to offer words of encouragement or literary advice. And whether you chose to approach this tip via joining an online writing group or attending an in-person conference, what matters is that you’re taking proactive steps to learn and grow as an author, all while becoming a valued member of the world you love.
5) Become familiar with the road to publication.
If you do this now, you’ll save yourself from becoming overwhelmed when you finally do finish your cherished first novel. Here you just spent months or years pouring your heart and soul out into your book, and now you’re also suddenly supposed to know how to navigate the often confusing world of publishing? By having that initial prior knowledge, you’ll have a good idea of what’s expected of you once your book is complete, and then the road won’t seem quite so daunting. You’ll see that getting published is an attainable step-by-step process and that there are thousands of detailed articles and videos at your fingertips to help lead you on your way.
So, to sum things up—we’ve now decided that you are fully ready to start making the switch from romance reader to romance author. The world always needs another love story, and your characters are waiting (very possibly in a secret rose garden) for you to give them the voice that only you can give them. Fortune favors the bold and once you take your first step into the gloriously magical world that is writing romance, your only wish will be that you started sooner.