Well, it looks like my 5 year anniversary as a full-time writer is approaching. As fate would have it, I also need to blog more. So viola! Here’s a look back at my 5 years of writing. The mistakes, what I’ve learned and what I would offer other writers who are just getting started.
It’s not as hard as I thought. But there’s a hell of a lot more work involved than I thought. It’s pretty much like being involved with NaNoWriMo 24/7. I’d estimate that I’m putting in 6 hours a day (at least). Throw in splashes of website work, social networking, designing covers… It’s a full 8 hours each day. The good news is that creative writing isn’t hard. All you really need is a wild imagination and 0 social life. From there, everything hinges on your willingness to make the time to write. No excuses, just get it done.
Everyone needs an editor. Seriously, you need an editor. I tried self-editing when I first started out (most new authors do) and I failed miserably with it. You need someone you trust. My editor is also my agent, therapist, beta reader, creative team and he’d be my drinking buddy if we weren’t on opposite sides of the world. My editor knows my habits and he’ll call me out on them. In the end, that makes for a better reading experience for people who shell out money for my books.
The traditional publishing method is so 2005. I have written 23 books as of this post. Granted, I write pulp-style and that’s typically shorter. Still, I’ve written several novels when you stack it all up. I make a living doing this. I regularly outsell traditionally published authors to the point that many of them troll my books on Amazon and leave 1-star reviews in an effort to bog me down. Seriously, that happens in the world of writing. My point here is that you don’t need to pay a middle man to open the pearly gates of publishing in the year 2016. You just don’t. Plenty of creative folks have bypassed them and are doing rather well. Google it.
Learn to live poor. Listen up, this is very important. If you plan to write for a living, you’d be doing yourself a great service by learning to live poor. It’s simple math, folks. If my monthly expenses are X, then I need to make enough money with my writing to pay for X. In my experience, that’s a hell of a lot easier to do after you lower X as far as possible. Live within your means and understand that authors typically get paid very little. Most people who “aspire” to be full-time authors have very high monthly expenses. Beating those monthly expenses down as much as possible will greatly increase your chances of writing full-time and actually surviving.
Have fun. This is the last thing I’ll list (for now). I may eventually come back and add more. Have fun with your writing! I went through a period where I was writing to pay the bills and in doing so, I was writing things that I didn’t want to. It was a miserable experience. Write what you’re passionate about and it’ll stay fun for you. I’m still a newbie in the grand scheme of things, but I only wish I would have had the knowledge I have now when I first started out. Learning is part of the process, I guess.
In closing, I would love to hear the advice you folks have! Post a comment and let me know something you’ve learned along the way. If you have a question, just ask. Until then… Keep writing!