“I want to be a writer. I want to write a book.”
This is what I often hear from people when I tell them I’m working on a book and becoming an Authorpreneur. When they say it they have this dreamy far away look in their eyes. Imagining fame and fortune, going on TV shows and signing their name on copies of their books. I give them the same advice I’m gonna give you, in the same way my mentor gave it to me.
“No, you really don’t want to be a writer. It’s frustrating, lonely, and hard.”
Despite what some people think, the reality is writing as a profession is not an easy path to success or wealth. If you think it’ll enable you to pay a mortgage on a big house, and you’ll be driving your kids to a private school in your Mercedes SUV, then I’ma smack you upside your head…again.
For most writers, you’d be lucky to afford rent on a double-wide mobile home, and feeding your kids store brand mac ‘n’ cheese…every day. Writing is a lot of work with little financial reward.
People who have a need to write don’t have a choice. It makes us feel good when we’re writing in a “flow” state (see runner’ high), and when we’re not writing we feel guilty, and lousy about it.
If you’re good with this and saying, “I don’t care, I want to write, I need to write,” Alrighty then this is what you need to do.
Several years ago, I attended a presentation Stephen King was giving at the Harvard Memorial Church. He was promoting a book of short stories. After the talk he held a Q&A session, and inevitably one young college aged lady asked, “What’s the best way to become a real writer.”
Stephen King, having heard this same question thousands of times before, mustered the ability to not look bored with the question and responded, “To become a real writer you need to take these two very important steps:
1. Read a helluva lot…
2. Write a helluva lot
Ask any successful writer and they’ll tell you the same thing. While every writer’s journey to a successful writing career is different, these rules are carved in stone.
Read a lot. Write a lot.
I amazes me when I meet someone who talks about wanting to become a writer, but the only thing they read and write on a regular basis are text messages, Tweets and Facebook entries! Really? Seriously?
If you want to be a writer, you actually need to write something other than text messages. Instead of just talking about writing (which we all love doing), you need to write something good, something involving thought and creativity – almost every day. Produce a paragraph with substance or an entire page at minimum.
Like most folks, you set a block of time in your day to go to a job on a regular basis, because you have to. If you want to be a writer then you have to set a block of time every weekday day to write, BECAUSE YOU HAVE TO. It’s your part-time job.
If you want to do this as a profession, you need to act like a professional. If you make writing a secondary or tertiary avocation – then forget it. Stop wasting your time. You aren’t a writer and don’t want to be. It’s just a hobby at that point.
To me, being a writer means this is your avocation, your passion and you intend it to be your main means of making a living. You know there’s a component of art to it, but you also know it’s a business and you need to give it that level of consideration. If you approach wanting to be a writer with anything less, then you’re just dabbling. Do you dabble at your job?
When you write something, you have to finish it. Period. End of story… literally.
After you’ve been writing for a while and people, other than your family and friends, tell you they liked what you wrote, it’s time to consider publishing your stories.
If you really feel the need to see your name on a book cover in a book store – knock yourself out. Go for it. Just know it’s a long road, fraught with frustration, rejection and disappointment. The traditional publishing route is nothing I’m going to cover in this blog. Currently traditional publishing is an obsolete business model sorely in need of a total overhaul.
I’m a big Authorpreneur advocate. Best-selling author Hugh Howey’s research at Author Earnings is proving your chances of making your dreams of becoming a full time writer, are far greater traveling down the Indie Publishing road.
Get Out of Your Own Way
Deal with the irrational fears holding you back from becoming the writer you envision. Writing is hard, but it isn’t life and death – you can do this. Most writer’s have a catalog of disempowering fears and negative emotions about writing. We must face them, and realize they have no basis in reality and exile them.You don’t have time or place for them in your life.
You have dreams to fulfill. Get into a state of passion for writing, and it will push doubt and low self-esteem aside, and allow you to put words on the page.