Thursday, July 11, 2013

So You Want to be a Writer...

Millions of people think of becoming a writer.  Only a small percentage actually do.  There are probably as many reasons for both.  It looks like fun, but the truth is that it's hard work and not for the faint-hearted.  It can be brutal, it can be fabulous!  But there's no way of knowing which and when will happen, because both do.

I'll be upfront and honest and say without qualms that I am not a NY Times Bestselling Author.  I don't have awards stretched along my fireplace mantle.  I don't even have a fireplace, much less a mantle.  I haven't sold as many books as some, but I've sold more than others.  In fact, I have two, very close friends who have topped the charts.  Does that bother me?  Not really.  I focus on myself, not everyone else.  I don't need to be the Joneses next door.  Trying to do that is counterproductive.  I'd drive myself crazy.  Okay, crazy-ER.

It's my opinion that there are four kinds of writers.  Let's take a look at them.

  1. People who dream about being a writer and may have even told people about their dream, but haven't written anything.  
  2. People who write sporadically, when the mood strikes, but enjoy being around people who write.
  3. People who are actively writing toward a goal of being published and continue to learn new things.
  4. People who have had a book published--or have published a book--and are actively working on the next.  Learning new things are a must in their life.
#1's are simply dreamers.  They usually love reading and wish to someday do the same.  However, they haven't looked into the process of writing and publishing.  They, like dreamers, dream of someday writing a book...when there's time.  Maybe.  These are the people we hear say, "Someday I'm going to write a book about [whatever topic is being discussed].  There are times when this can lead to actually moving forward and investigating what goes into writing a book.

#2's are what are known as hobbyists.  There's nothing wrong with being a hobbyist.  Having interest in doing something is good.  Many writing hobbyists are even voracious readers.  There are a few who rarely read, but enjoy listening to others talk about writing and will say they are writing, too.

#3's are writers.  They have done and continue to do their "homework."  They attend conferences, workshops, either in person or online, and keep up with what's going on in the publishing world.  They get together with writer friends and join writing groups to talk about and learn more about writing and publishing.  But most importantly, they are least once a week, if not more.  They are writers.

#4's understand how important it is to write and continue to learn about all aspects of writing.  In the meantime, they write nearly every day (or night).  They write wherever and whenever they can, whether it's waiting while kids attend activities or even on vacation.  They work hard and have deadlines to meet.  They are Writers.

Which number are you?

Kristen Lamb said in her June 10, 2013 blog post, Traits of the Successful Author--Self Discipline"If you want to be a professional, careful hanging out with too many amateurs. When I say amateur, I don’t mean unpublished (pre-published) writers. I mean writers who are hobbyists. If you’re in a writing group, and it might as well be a coffee klatshe? Find another group or create one on WANATribe."

Well said, Kristen!

Which number are you?  Are you happy where you are?  If so, that's fine.  If you aren't, why aren't you?  Ask yourself what's keeping you from moving on.  Even multi-published authors can and do ask themselves this question.  The answer?  Each one is different, just as each writer is different.  Know where you are and decide where you want to be.  If you're a #2 and happy, you're where you want to be.  If you're a #1, and do nothing beyond dreaming, ask yourself what's important, dreaming or doing and do something about it, if needed.  #3?  Keep learning and keep writing!  Even when it feels like the odds are against you, keep moving forward.  Keep writing.  The publishing world is changing, and you may find the right place to be and the right (write?) you.

Follow your dream, then live your dream.
Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world. 
 -- Harriet Tubman

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