Wanting to grow up and be a writer probably gets you laughed at, or people think “‘Oh you’ll grow out of that”. But really where’s all the information out there about how hard it is, how soul crushing it can be at times, and also what you can do to succeed in the industry. There are loads of books and blogs out there though; “How to be a successful writer”, ” A Dummies Guide to Writing” plus articles from pretty well everyone on what not to do and how not to over write.
Everyone is an expert too! From the optimistic supporters, the pessimistic opposes along with your parents who don’t know what they ought to say and when. It’s tough, but it can be rewarding. So rather than bore you with my own melodrama or spur you on with words of enthusiasm, here are my 4 tips from a real working writer trying to make it a full time career.
- Resilience, Persistence & Patience
If you have neither thick skin or a strong back bone, this industry isn’t for you. After a while you don’t look forward to the mail or an email reply from an editor, and you stop counting the rejection letters, as it’s no longer “cute”. Be persistent and patient and don’t give up. Keep believing in yourself and striving and know that there is the right job out there for you. Remember you’re dealing with a subjective business and it’s nothing against you personally. Yes, you’ll have off days, but I suggest getting that 24 hour meltdown over with quickly and then get back pushing on forward.
2. Professionalism and Subjectivity
Regardless of the bashing your ego just took, remember always be professional. Writers are generally passionate and emotional people but coming across as a desperate mess will do you no favours. Always be professional, thank the person for their time and consideration. Before you start jumping to conclusions as to why you weren’t selected actually ask yourself “Did I follow the submission guidelines properly?, “Was this something I actually wanted to do?” , “Was I rushing to get this done, and was it maybe not my best work?”. All really good points and something to be considered. Do research, do pay attention but don’t lose sleep over it.
3. Know Your Worth
So many writers and creatives hate to discuss money! When you finally receive that “Yes” letter, ask yourself what is your piece, time and talent worth? There are so many companies, brands or individuals out there that think it’s OK to pay us next to nothing. That “artistic credit”, “exposure” and “writing credit” are all commodities worth way more on the stock exchange. Until any of those can pay my rent, then cash is fine thanks. Most writers aren’t paid millions of dollars (Surprising right”?), so as to whether people knowingly set out to exploit us and under pay us is done intentionally I’m still unsure. There are loads of variables here, but remember if you under value or sell your services you’re not only making it harder for future writers but then you can blame no one other than yourself, for taking a low paying job! Time is money and it’s true.
4. Flexibility, Developing Your Craft and Writerly Well Being
Make sure you’re always developing your craft. Writing is practical – you must practice. You’ll also deal with writer’s block. Try different writing exercises to get your creative genius back. Don’t forget about collaboration; writing can be isolating. If you get stuck on writing ‘original’ content, according to Graeme Simsion, the author of The Rosie Project, just remember that no idea is really original anymore. However if you put Idea A and Idea B together, you can put your own twist on things and create something unique. Writers must be flexible; don’t be fixated on just one genre – try experimenting with others. Most importantly, don’t do your own head in. Sometimes you need to walk away from your projects, take some time to yourself and know when you have to detach- your own sanity relies on it.
Remember, if writing is your passion, the struggle will be real, but it’s all a part of the writing journey. At the end of it, you just might have a pretty cool story to share, and that just might equate to your J.K Rowling moment!