Most emerging writes will tell you that the hardest part of starting out is getting your first publication.
It is very easy as a new writer to become disillusioned with the industry as a whole. The eternal chicken and egg problem. Publishers want manuscripts from authors that have already been published, but how do you get published if no one will take your work?
Approach your burgeoning career as a writer in the same way as you would approach your day job. To achieve your goal (publication, or whatever that might be), you will need to take steps to achieve it.
A writer once told me that the best way to go about getting published is to take every possible writing opportunity you can find, and most of that will be work you do for free. But it is all good experience, and you will find that the more opportunities you look for, the more you will find.
Create a CV.
Take a copy of your current CV and extract everything from your previous jobs that relate to writing in any capacity (reports, spread sheets, children’s activities etc.). Write a new CV with all of those details highlighted.
Take opportunities within the workplace.
Those emails that Charlotte in the communications team has been sending around begging for good news stories for the website? That internal newsletter? Maybe even a proposal for new equipment or presentations for colleagues. These are all great opportunities to hone your writing skills, and depending on your work place’s policies, you may be able to keep copies of your work as evidence of your skills.
Take opportunities outside of the workplace.
If you are part of a group in your spare time (community watch, social clubs, sports clubs), there may be an internal newsletter that you could contribute to. Write letters to your local paper, write short pieces for local charities for free, or join local writing groups that publish analogies.
Write a portfolio.
This is essentially a CV that details all of your writing achievements. Collect together everything you have ever written, and go online to find information on how to structure this. Usually, you would put together extracts of your pieces into a document, and include information about yourself as a writer and details on each piece (when it was written, what it was for, how long the piece is etc.)
Set up a Blog or Website.
Technophiles may baulk at the idea of designing their own web page or blog. But these days there are some fantastic tools around that walk you through the process. Try Google’s Blogger service and set up your own basic template, and get blogging!
I guarantee that once you have had a go at a few of these steps, you will start to feel much more like a professional writer. This will give you confidence when you make your first approach to a publisher.