I’m writing this to tell everyone why I’m writing and possibly to inform others about why being a full time writer is nearly impossible.
I don’t consider myself a writer yet, but I’m working on it.
I am one of those disabled people that can’t hold down the “normals” jobs even if just sitting at a desk doing paperwork. My body can’t take the stress and I get sick too often to even hold down the job, plus I have a list of medical problems.
I began writing stories at the age of 13 and have never stopped since. I read everything from every genre I could get a hold of back then and still do. I compared my writing and style to others and developed my own style. Made my own unique worlds and characters to inhabit them over this period. Still, I wrote every chance I could get for hours each day avoiding computer games, things I liked to do with people and even quitting one computer game that was getting too time consuming, which I dearly loved playing online.
The one thing I do is WRITE everyday day for 8 to 16 hours a day. (Not in one sitting since I can’t do that and still have my health at all.) What I turn out might be bad on some days but I learn from the experience. If I can’t keep my body going at least I can keep my mind going by writing. I write in small periods from when I get up until when I go to sleep most times. My entertainment is writing, it has to be in order to improve my skills and hopefully turn out that one good piece on a single day, if short, or month if over 60K words in length.
I do listen to music while I write, but not the distracting types that you can’t listen to in the background while doing other things. I read other authors and highlight methods they use or interesting ways in which that present characters or ideas to study on and try to find a method to do that in my writing without copying their method.
Read a blog this morning by an author that told just how hard this profession really is. She made it seem like the worst profession you could have nearly. Unappreciated, under valued and with all the side line works that you have to do at times just to survive with some type of paycheck coming in from those things.
I agree that people don’t understand the hardships of writing full time and never seeing much or anything from it. It’s not easy typing until you see 60K words on the screen, going back and making a rough edit, and tossing most of that to the digital trashcan. Might not have been bad writing but might not have fit into the story on the whole. So now your nearly month of writing 60K words is down to half and you start working again, checking character outlines, story board connections and plot devices to see where you got off track possibly. If you are lucky, you find out and finish the story. If not, you set it aside and write something at least, even if it is a simple short story for your own pleasure. Then you spell, grammar check and edit that one until you have something half decent.
One thing I have found is that you need other eyes laid on your writing. No way in any form can you edit your own works totally and see them turn out better. You are usually too close, adding in missed words and filling in blanks in the plot or scenes in your mind without the words being their at times.
One thing I found that helped greatly was the text to voice feature of a few programs I have to help in writing. When you hear your words read back to you, after you have set the story aside for a while, you can hear where the words are wrong, the plot goes off on a tangent, commas aren’t needed or are and if the story holds your own interest after hearing it read for seven pages at first and then for two hours or more.
The first seven pages have to hold the reader like a bee is drawn to a flower. If you can’t hook them here, forget the rest of the book. If they aren’t going to read past that far, go back and redo the starting pages. Then look at the first chapter as a whole for as the hook. It doesn’t stop there however. Readers have a habit of jumping to places in books to see what the writing is like or if it matches their own fantasies and desires for a story. So you have to look at each chapter and each paragraph as a hook for the reader. Each piece you read must make you wish to read on, if it doesn’t, it might not be a bad thing just a part you might want to consider editing out or polishing up.
All of these things take time too. So if you write and finish say a 120,000 word story in a month, you might be editing, checking and polishing for the next three to six months, if you don’t have an editor, proofreader and others to look at your work.
You can also never stop learning about writing. You have to purchase those books on writing and then really read them. See what you learn in each section and apply that to your writing, learning in baby steps how to create, edit or polish your own writing, making it into the readable work that people will pick up.
If you try to get published through an agent, great for you. You may never find an agent though if your writing isn’t up to the standard or in the genre which that particular agent is after. They look at the big dollar sign, which is what you should look for too, but this still doesn’t mean it will get you an agent if your writing isn’t good enough. After you find an agent, good luck. I haven’t used one yet, so I have no knowledge on that part yet.
If you self publish, and this is a big one people, you will need to outline your business plan for your publishing. You will become the marketer, ad agent, website designer, online ads maker, blogger, Facebook logger and cover art creator for your works. Then the hard parts come with true online chats, personal interviews, book signings at your local book store (if you have the money to get a few printed copies), workshops to host, public speaking on the works you produce and many other things. OK, now you should get the stress level involved in self-publishing. All this is also coming out of your own cash too. Oh, did I forget to mention that you still have to do most of the above if you submit it to a publisher too!
All of this above stuff means nothing however, if your don’t do one thing. WRITE!!! You have to write when you feel terrible, forgo those nice things you use to do usually and keep yourself in the mind frame that the next thing you write will be a best seller. If you don’t keep that dream alive, you will not succeed as a writer, either full or part-time.
If you get published by a big house or even a smaller one, don’t expect the big bucks. Those things never happen to most writers. Most are lucky to see anything from their book sales after the publishers take their cuts and their costs from your royalties. If you self-publish, you will be fighting a battle in an uphill torrent that can and will swallow you whole with your book or story nowhere to be found. Either way unless you take the reins to make it be found, your book will sit on a shelf to become either paper pulp or digital trash in a few weeks to a few months.
Writers out there must stick together, but we must also stick close to our readers, no matter who that might be. If one reader talks good about what they read in a crowded store or in a line at a store to another friend, others might hear what they are saying and want to check it out. If one reader shares something good on Facebook about us or in a blog, it might be what starts the social networking to make sales jump a little.
Don’t depend on this though unless you market yourself like mad and make your presence well known on the internet. The public needs to be able to find info on your actual name or pseudo with only putting it into the Google search engine. If your name isn’t unique or is spelled like a million other’s names, you might be in luck. If someone has a pseudo like the one you wish, change it! You don’t want to be confused for someone else, it will only get you into a bad place very quickly. Try to develop this a little before putting out your works. Get a webpage and make it professional looking, a cheap look or cluttered with ads will drive a person away in a second. Ads are all right but must be either out of first line of sight or somewhere nearly hidden at the bottom of the page. (I know, how will I generate income for the page without ads, right? Well, ads are tricky things, you don’t want too many but need a few. Google ads are great since they rotate between things they sell. One of these ads can be better than ten or twenty static ones. Movement on the page makes the eye go to that place, but . See the point now? I learned this the hard way.)
Seek out a writers group that is in the genre that you wish to write in. Show your writing, get critiques and comments, learn from them and don’t get discouraged by any of them. What one person that writes might see as bad, a hundred others might enjoy. Remember to help others here too, whenever and however you can by critiquing their works, commenting on their works and generally interacting with the group. Anything to get your thoughts out and continue to make yourself known in the group. You will learn a lot in a writer’s group that you never thought possible. Actual published authors are in most of these and they sometimes do or might critique a story of yours or make a comment. Read other’s writing and learn from them what works too. Don’t have a closed mind about anything or any topic.
Why I write the stories I write, I have the drive to write these stories. I have a never ending urge to create and write, thank goodness. Not everything is good, but I write it. If I don’t write each day, I get depressed and then think I shouldn’t even try at times. So, I don’t let myself slip into this thinking. I think each day that I will write the best I have ever written and it will get published, even if just by myself to see on my own webpage.
If you can’t write in a genre you think you can, change and see if another one fits your better. No matter what, don’t pigeon hole yourself into a single genre. Actually, don’t write in any genre! Write to suit yourself first, and then the public later after you develop your style, abilities and voice. (Yes, writing has a voice! It is the way the writer puts words to any type of print. You can tell a lot about a writer just from their voice, like if they like a genre they are writing, if the characters are part of them and if the plots and scenes were a struggle to write or flowed like water from them.) Write what interests you, don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t write a subject type, unless it if viewed as illegal in some manner. What you might write just might have a special niche market that will get you some copies sold.
Don’t just write a single title, even if only short stories to go with the big title. Books sell better from authors that have multiple books out. Readers like to see that the author isn’t going to be a one time book writer. They like to see that their is a list being created. Create a back list, which is a list of books or stories you have done and place this in your books and everywhere you can to show you have the drive to produce more works. Create a front list, a list made to show new titles you are working on and when you expect to release them (don’t state an actual date, that is a death sentence for so many reasons). Post free stories on your webpage, post teasers (learn how to write these or learn to never see your book sold), post excerpts from your book or story, create a guestbook on your webpage and send personal emails thanking people that visit your site, maybe including a teaser in it even that isn’t on your webpage yet, readers like to see all of this. Get to know your readers and they will sell you better than yourself ever can.
Decide early on that you will never get anything for your writing. This way you will not be disappointed when no money comes in from that great book you just wrote. It can take weeks, months or years to get sold enough to generate anything at all. You might be the type that needs the money, don’t think you will ever get anything from your writing except your own pleasure in writing it. Then when something does happen, it is like a gift from God himself.
Most important of all, if you haven’t gotten the meaning before this: WRITE, HAVE CONFIDENCE IN YOUR WRITING, DON’T LET ANYONE TELL YOU THAT YOU CAN’T WRITE AND NEVER LET YOUR DREAMS OF BEING A WRITER DIE IN FRONT OF YOU! If you take those words to heart, think about what I have written and how much work it will be and still think you can do it, great.
Take Care and Stay Safe.