Extra Skills Modern Writers Need

I’ll have to be quick today as I have a book waiting to be line edited, another which needs a first edit, and yet another which needs to be written. But I’ll do this first (see how much I love you, people!).

There was an interesting piece in yesterday’s Sunday Business Post about journalism – Romantic journalism is dead and gone by Aileen O’Meara. In it she says: ‘To be on top of the game, an newspaper journalist now has to be effectively be a multimedia producer . . . surf the net, update a Twitter account and a blog, offer an audio version of breaking news and self-podcast what happened, and carve out a career as a good performer on both radio and television panels.’

It got me thinking about writers, and what they are now expected to do.

Multimedia – check. I’ve written about this before – websites, blogs, social networking – all useful ways to stay connected with your readers.

Surf the net – looking for ideas for blogs and to keep up to date – check (along with reading the newspapers, keeping an ear on the radio and an eye on the television).

Update a Twitter account – check – along with Facebook if you write for children and/or YA, or if you write popular fiction.

Offer an audio version of breaking news – no. But writers are increasingly posting audio or video clips of themselves reading or talking about their books. In Ireland, O’Brien Press are taking the lead her with short, snappy, to camera pieces by their authors, posted on their website (and on Facebook).

Performing – check – CHECK I should say. You need to be able to engage with your audience live – children, teens or adults. It is no longer good enough to stand in front of any audience and simply read your work (unless you are J K Rowling or Roddy Doyle who both read so wonderfully). You need to be able to perform. And for people who spend most of their time behind a desk, inventing characters and scenes in their heads, this is pretty darn terrifying. But with a lot of work and practice, it can be done. It’s only taken me 15 years to be comfortable in front of an audience – adults still make me a bit nervous, kids not so much.

Radio and television – check – you must be able to promote your book for it to stand out. You must also be able to write newspaper columns and articles when publication time comes around.

And you must do all this while writing your next book and editing your previous book!

See, being a writer is a doddle. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

And later this week I’ll talk about what characteristics writers need to be successful.

Yours in writing,

Sarah XXX