So, you want to be a writer? Brilliant! Full marks.
But are you prepared to do the work?
I know loads of people who want to be writers. They talk about being writers, talk about writing, and some even call themselves writers. But what does it actually take to be a writer? Here are my findings (drawn from my personal experiences to date) so far:
- YOU NEED TO WRITE: preferably every day, even if its only a few lines. How can you call yourself a writer if you don’t ever put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard). This one is a no-brainer.
- YOU NEED TO READ: every day if you can. You need to read widely, across genres, themes, styles, age groups, etc. AND you need to think about what you have read. What did you like/dislike about the piece? How does it compare to your own writing? What does that best-seller have that your book doesn’t?
- YOU NEED TO GET YOUR WRITING OUT THERE: Enter those competitions, submit to those journals, submit pieces to other blogs, set up your own blog. If it’s sitting in the drawer then it may as well be a blank note book.
- RECORD IDEAS AS THEY COME TO YOU: Carry a notebook and pen, utilise that app in your phone. Don’t let opportunities pass you by.
And some other “recommended” items:
- Join your local writing groups/organisations
- Research writing styles
- Read reviews
- Read other writers’s blogs, sign up for newsletters
- Monitor book sales and best-seller lists
- Go to libraries and book stores and look at what’s selling
- Research agent and publisher requirements
- Research journals that take the genres you prefer to write in
- Monitor writing competitions and deadlines
- Look into short-courses (and longer ones) which cover various aspects of writing, marketing and publishing
- Set up your own social media profile (research it, work out what suits you)
- Set up a writing space, just for you.
Your next challenges will be finding the time, managing rejection, and getting that all-important frank and honest feedback on your work. After all, the writing is only the start of the journey.
And good luck with it all. Keep the faith, but more importantly do the work.
Sarah Jackson is blogger who has self published five short story science fiction e-books, and a junior grade children’s book “Pete and the Persian Bottle”. She is working to improve her standard of writing, with the aim of bagging a contract with a traditional publisher. And so the journey continues….www.sarahjacksonwriter.com
I have read a number of articles & blog posts about writing not being considered to be an actual job. Last week during dinner with a friend, she made the comment that I was semi-retired (not fully retired as I do some paid work at a University). I was a little taken-aback but let it slide. After all I wanted to check the definition of “retirement” to ensure that I wouldn’t be speaking out of turn if I objected to the label. My assumption about the meaning of “retirement” was confirmed, with all definitions implying that it means “leaving the work force”. I was left feeling more than a little annoyed.
I have not left the work force! As a writer I expect that I never will (assuming that my capacity to write remains). My part time/casual work is to get some extra money in the door, and is not the only work I do. I object to the assumption that I’m doing nothing and am available whenever anyone wants a chat, someone to visit, someone to go out with. I’m very busy!
Here are my reasons for believing, no, make that knowing, that writing is a full time job, and is my career:
- I work everyday. And I mean every day – even if it’s only for an hour or two.
- My standard work day is about 6 hours long. When you consider that those working in office jobs spend a significant amount of time lunching, having tea/coffee breaks, chatting with colleagues, attending boring non-relevant meetings, I think that makes us even.
- I get paid. And I get paid regularly. It may not be much, but I get a cheque every three months from the distributer of my children’s book, a monthly payment from the bookstore where my book is stocked, and a payment from Amazon/Kindle at the end of every month.
- I’m published. You can google me/my titles.
- I’m considered to be an author/emerging writer (by industry definition).
- I participate in professional development courses related to my business.
- I belong to a writer’s group and various formal writing and publishing organisations and groups.
- I am listed as a writer/author/publisher on my tax return, legal documents and census details.
- I have a business plan (really I do), business card, business email, business website, an accounts system, an Australian Business registration number, and an EIN (US tax number).
I am in business. Writing is my job, my career and my passion.
I know that I sound like a bit of a stroppy cow, and in reality those who believe that I do nothing all day is limited to that particular friend, some distant acquaintences and my mother. I really believe that it’s important that we value work in any and all of the arts industries. Being a writer is more than a job, it’s a career and a way of life.
Perhaps some people are jealous that I (we) have taken the risk and are trying to make a living doing something we love.