I got an email today from a young woman who passionately wishes to be a writer. Here was my advice to her:

I urge you to follow your dream. Everyone feels insecure about writing, even the greatest.

I advise you to read books on writing. It’s also important to read—constantly—for pleasure: this should be the writing you aspire to, and by reading, you develop an “inner ear.”

I also advise you to write every day, even if for only for 15-30 minutes. Novels can be written in this way. Writing never really pays, and it’s best not to put that burden on it. Find a way, rather, to work it into your normal life.

But whatever you do, persevere. Understand that there is an important difference between being a writer, and being published. You can be a writer now. It often takes decades to be published. Do it for the love of it.