There’s a lot of advice on the subject of writing as a career. Most if of it seems to contain: “write, write, write, edit, write, edit, and write more”. While that is the most obvious part of the equation, it can be difficult. I believe that writers often need some “how” help. Writers are always on a quest of “how to write” better material, but there are also other necessities if you want to treat writing like a “real” career.
First, you need to know yourself enough to know your “groove”. Do you write better with paper or on the computer? Do you have a preference for a writing utensil: black or blue ink or something completely different? Perhaps you prefer pencil so you can edit as you proceed with your first draft. Do you write while listening to music, outside, at the library, a quiet room, or in the midst of a boisterous crowd? Everyone is different, but don’t underestimate the power of being in your writing place.
Once you have your writing space and tradition set, the difficult work begins. Here are a few ways (and certainly not the ultimate list) to treat writing like a “real” career (because, of course, it is).
- Keep track of any research—nothing is worse than looking up information to help you write your book, only to realize that the information will need to be cited at some point later. Always be safe and keep a spreadsheet or designated file (paper or electronic) with the resources you have used during the writing process.
- Get the Writer’s Market Deluxe Edition—this is going to be a fantastic resource if you want to get published, or paid for just about any type of writing. It isn’t really going to teach you how to write well, although there are a few helpful articles, but the real value is getting advice about the process of trying to become published. I recommend getting the most recent edition available so the information is more relevant, and in some cases more accurate when it concerns agents and similar data.
- Subscribe to Grammarly—a great resource to help you edit. I’m not going to lie here, it’s difficult to edit your “baby” the way you should, especially if you didn’t put the work away before editing. Grammarly can help you see errors that might detract from the professional quality of your work. Heh…I should probably use it for this post huh?
- Set goals for yourself—writing is difficult enough, but depression can quickly set in when you haven’t produced anything or haven’t submitted work for publishing. There are not built-in milestones for writers to assess their progress. You could edit a manuscript three or more times and while finishing the first draft feels great (or perhaps bittersweet), to have the next “official” goal be the procurement of an agent, or a publishing agreement…well that leaves a pretty big dry spell.
So set word count goals or smaller incremental goals. Try promising yourself that you will submit to “X” number of publications or agents within a set period of time. You’ll feel great when you hit that goal, and even if the end result is not positive, you’ll hopefully keep up the momentum which will increase the odds of success.
- Research the craft—no one can be excellent at a profession without studying it. This includes reading great writers, books about writing and soaking up any knowledge that can enhance your performance. If you treat your writing like any other professional treats his or her profession, you will reap the rewards. Sounds simple enough, but it’s the less glamorous side of the career.
- Develop connections—you never know when forming a connection with someone will lead you to another path in your career. When you form connections with fellow writers, you can also glean advice since each person has a different experience to share and may be at different points in their career. Attending conferences, whenever possible, is also a good way to engage with potential agents and get your name out and about.
Organization can also be a challenge for many people (myself included) so I had to develop a system that worked for me. I tried keeping electronic records of my character sketches but I forgot they were there. Instead, I now keep a binder with that information so that it’s easily accessible. Since I know that “out of sight, out of mind” is a real problem for me, it’s nice to have a visible and labeled binder at hand when writing.
To keep on track, what do you have to add to the list? Do you schedule specific times to write? Do you have an accountability partner who will check in with your progress and threaten to Instagram you in your pajamas if you haven’t met your goals?
Have a great weekend, and a great upcoming week people of Awesomeness! (Yes, that includes you.)
If you want a weird idea to bust boredom check out Get Out of Your Comfort Zone to Spark Creativity.