The first step to being a serious writer is to take yourself seriously as a writer. How can you ever expect publishers, agents, or editors to believe in you if you don't believe in yourself? Taking the craft seriously and thinking of myself as "a writer" above all else is something I've only recently allowed myself to do. Until very recently--as in, within the last year or so--writing just didn't seem practical, even though I'd slowly built up a freelancing career and had been learning all I could about the craft.
I've always written, and, as most writers probably do, I always had it in the back of my mind that I "would write a book someday". But it never occurred to me that writing could be a serious career choice, or that I could make actual money from something I just chipped away at "for fun".
I didn't start taking myself seriously until a few years ago, when I started a writer's group in the area with my friend Kathy. Our first meetings drew writers from all genres, and it really started to sound like something I could do, and maybe make some money in the process. I started asking some questions, and thanks to encouragement and the patience of another writer friend (who'd been in the game for years), I finally felt comfortable enough to send out my first query.
I've had my share of rejections, of course, but there have been quite a few successes, too. Now I can't imagine how my life would be had I not gotten involved with the writer's group, and was brave enough to send out those first few queries. Now, I think of myself as a writer above everything else. Now, about a dozen or so clips later, I absolutely feel that I'm on the right path.
What about you? When did you start taking yourself seriously as a writer?