Many upon many people believe they can write, and many of them can. Some have the desire but not the talent, or the talent but not the desire. Unfortunately for many people both these qualities are entirely necessary since without either getting the words down on paper is quite difficult. Do you need inspiration every moment of your life? Nope, not at all. Do you need to be able to use perfect grammar? Not hardly, because typos will happen whether you like it or not and quite honestly it’s easier to read how someone thinks at times rather than grammatically-correct sentence. Seriously, how many of you have taken a grammar class in the past decade? It’s got a place and time, but in writing it’s a recurring guest star, not necessarily a mainstay in popular culture, or even academic writing.
But writing isn’t easy, no matter how much it might seem that writers simply put words together to make them into sentences that look and sound appealing to the eye and the imagination. It’s not a tap that you can turn on and off at will, and it’s not a diagram in your head that will spell itself out for you step by step. Writing takes hard work, dedication, and a few other things that are more of a personal learning process and therefore don’t fit quite as nicely into a helpful eBook that you can download for future reference.
Want to know what it takes to be a successful writer? Well let’s take a look.
Prepare to be poor.
You read that right. Unless you’re equipped with a high-paying job and are using writing as a supplementary income, be prepared to make very little from the start. If you’re an exceptional writer, great, you might move up the ranks a little quicker. Otherwise getting a big payday will be a stroke of luck. In writing, as in anything, you need to earn your way up. You’ll have to impress the right people, and you’ll have to take low-paying jobs at first to get people to notice you. It’s not pretty, it’s not glamorous, and it’s certainly not lucrative. But if you love to write, it will be liberating.
I’d like to add “don’t think”, but that’s kind of a requirement at times, especially depending on WHAT you’re writing. When it comes down to it however, when you have all the information you need, when your outlines are drawn out, and when you have no other excuse, just write. Gathering your data and figuring out your course is the prep work. The actual writing is the most important part of the process. If you can prep but not write, then the point of your prep kind of goes up in smoke.
Don’t be pick until you’ve found a niche.
If you’re going to be a freelancer, a novelist, or anything else when it comes to writing, don’t waste time stating what you WANT to write. Just find something you CAN do and make it a start. You won’t get to do what you want and make money right away, as this is no longer how the writing business works. There are millions of people that believe they can write, and far too many of them have the kind of talent that will put you to shame if you decide to get picky. When starting out, write what you can, write anything you can, learn different styles, learn everything that comes across your desk and gives you a chance to grow. If you’re not hungry enough to get the jobs you’re given done then you don’t belong in this world and need to keep to writing as a hobby. There are a lot of writers out there, and they’re ALL hungry.
Never sacrifice your dignity.
From time to time you might have to write about something you don’t agree with. You might be tempted to say no, and that’s your prerogative and your right. But once again, someone will step in and take that job from you if you falter for even a second. Your dignity is never at stake so long as you stick to your guns and remember that writing can be personal or impersonal depending on whether you want to move forward or hold yourself back. There’s no right or wrong in this process, as your gut feeling is often the right one. Just keep in mind, preserving your dignity can also come at the cost of your overall success. Find a compromise if possible and stride forward.
You won’t be a star overnight.
Get used to this. Everyone has to earn their way up, even the great ones. No one was an overnight success their first time out. It will get hard, it will beat you down, and you might even think you’ve lost the love of writing now and again. But if that happens then it means that writing is a hobby, not a passion. This job will test you as surely as any other, and sometimes it will be worse since getting better at it won’t guarantee you a spot at the top. You want to ascend the mountain then you’ve got to do something you’ve never done before. You’ll have to work your way there, paying your dues the entire time.
Scared yet? Nervous? No? Well to be honest you should be at least a little daunted, otherwise you’re kidding yourself that it will be simple. Your writing is something that only you can feel, and should be the reason why you’re willing to put yourself through the punishment that is the life of a writer at times. But the rewards, ah those wonderful accomplishments that you can use to build your own fortress, your own mountain hideaway of literary greatness, is worth the hard work, the late, sleepless nights, and the time you will willingly sacrifice in order to reach your goal.
You are the writer, so get to it and just write dammit.