Answer by Thaddeus Howze:
Stop aspiring. Write.
You want to make a name for yourself? Write something worth reading.
It's really that simple. The challenges of being a new writer are many and the rewards are few.
No one can walk this road for you. The greatest challenge of writing is you will be self-made. No one can choose your words, no one can harness your craft, no one can define what writing means to you.
Writing is like any other artistic endeavor. Others may watch you, cheer your efforts, laud your determination, but no one can pick up those words but you. No one will string together those sentences, create such pithy prose, designed to weaken the knees, boil the blood, or inspire the heart.
No one will sit with you in the wee hours of the morning as you communicate with the Akashic records, divine the murmuring of your drunken muse, or strip mine the realm of Logos for the stories being retold for the hundredth time, yet there you are trying to create something new, a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury and maybe just maybe just the tiniest bit of talent, a minutia of personal wisdom, a seed of something only you could draw down from the Universe's bounty.
Writing is like working in a coal mine. You descend into the darkness of your personal soul, prepared to open a vein upon the page, to mine the darkness of your greatest fears, your unrealized ambitions, your most utter failings. For this, this expression of your innermost thoughts is what people seek. This revelation their experiences are not unique, their failures and tribulations are not singular, they are the stuff of humanity.
In this coal mine of the soul, blind but for a tiny light, you seek to find the combustible fuel capable of igniting the mind of your reader, convincing them your efforts, your coal, your fervently dug bitumen is the real thing, something to ignite their passions, to remind them to feel again, to strive for something beyond their world, hoping for dreams they forgot they had.
This is the real goal of a writer. To connect people with the person they were, the person they abandoned when they took on their life as they knew it. The writer's true art is to find a place where all men and women hope to recall their dreams, their ambitions and for a moment engage in the life they have never known, for good or ill, for you have no idea what people seek, is it the darkness you create for them, or the light they seek?
It doesn't matter. Done well, they will embrace either, consuming the flesh of men, or battling the forces of evil at the doors of Heaven.
To reach your readers, you must know your craft. You must feel the language, you must love it. You must be willing to shape it, create it, make new words if that's what it takes to tell the story that reaches the souls of the brave who believe you are their storyteller.
To be someone's storyteller is a great power; and an even greater responsibility. For you shall absorb from them, the one thing they can never get again. They can search the world for it. Beg for it, and in the last moments of their life they will ask for more of it, knowing full well they have used all they have been allotted as best they were able: their time.
It's like will never come this way again. So if you would be a writer, if you would wear the title of storyteller, then I say to you, study your craft like you would any other, for you will be stealing the lives of men, beguiling them as the Fae of old, trading time for your illusions.
Slave in the word mines, gather vocabulary, each new word should be pressed within the pages of your personal library like flowers stolen from a field.
Read the masters, expend your precious time understanding how great writers worked their magic. Emulate their alchemy for a time, because such is the making of our enchantment, it is best done by watching a master. Understand one day, you will create you own Arts, weave your own spells, and they will be built upon the scaffolds of your teachers.
But you must still write. Write daily. Set the page ablaze with the zeal of your efforts.
Never stop writing. Find a reason to write about everything. Journal your life, imagine yourself the wind moving through a valley, shatter time and space, seek out madness and make it your own. Every day your efforts must eclipse the day before. Write until no experience is too mundane, no revelation too ethereal to escape your locution.
There will come a day when you are ready. You have plumbed the wells of the master craftsmen before you. You have discovered your personal muse and understand the nature of the outline, the planned structure, the inspired rant filled with zeal and enthusiasm and madness.
Your work is not done.
You will have to submit your work to review; to editors for the refinement of your craft, to sharpen your focus, their guidance shall help you stir the souls of men (and women). There is no work without the edit, no success can be measured without the editor.
Skip not this particular step for anything you wish others to buy. They must find your work, crisp, clean without significant challenge in the understanding, clarity in the illusion you are presenting.
The final step in your climb must be the submission. And its accompanying rejection.
Rejection IS the stuff of submission. You will absorb more rejection than acceptance so this must be the greatest effort you will make as a writer. To not stop. To persevere, to turn the stuff of rejection into rejectomancy, the magic of acceptance.
Know your markets, speak to your readers, divine as best you can, those who will crave your work and submit to them until they know you as they know their own kin. In this familiarity, in your diligence, they will take comfort and eventually seek you out.
Once you have refined your jewel, consorted with your editor and his or her dark sorcery of refinement, submit your work until it finds a home. If you have followed this oracle, you will find a place for your work because you are not depending on random fate.
You are not depending on the vagaries of those three witches, you have studied your craft, you have sat at the feet of the masters, you have filled your share of pages, thousands of words, nay millions of words have passed between your mind and your keyboard or page.
Only this way can you understand the efforts required. You are every improving your abilities, never resting on your laurels, maintaining fitness in your body and mind, for only in health can wisdom bloom. You have built the mental acumen, the acuity, the sagacity needed to be a writer and there is no room for chance.
Now go, young writer. Aspire no longer. Your path to mastery and lo mastery is required, no amateurish rambling, hoping to strike a chord in the reader, you must treat this endeavor as any worthwhile craft such as the hardworking smith, the diligent mechanic, the powerful gymnast, you must dedicate that same industry to your new creations.
Writing, good writing is no accident. It is willful. It is done with purpose. Yet it defies definition. It challenges the status quo. It breaks with convention while redefining such for itself.
Write, dammit, as if your very soul was at risk, in a bargain with a devil sharpening a dagger eager for his pound of flesh. Strike the page with the enthusiasm of a person for whom no future is assured, no greatness awaits, strike as if every blow will be your very last, every word, a tantamount creation.
Write like this and you will not have to worry for your name. Your efforts will draw them to you like the moth to the flame and they shall burn screaming your name in ecstasy.
Aspire no more, now Write.