How does one succeed in this business-hobby-craft called writing?
That’s a great question. I wish I had one simple answer for you.
I could tell you that writing is all about who you know, that the connections you make on every step of your journey matter and you’re probably not using them to your full advantage.
I could tell you that succeeding as a writer is a cocktail of more skills than you ever knew you needed — because the more skilled you are digitally, the more marketable you are professionally.
I could tell you that passion won’t make you money, but it will get you to the people and places that give you dollars in exchange for words neatly arranged on web pages.
I could even tell you that writing success isn’t possible without failure — that the more willing you are to fall flat on your face in the presence of People More Successful Than You, the more likely you are to someday figure out what works, and run with it.
The reality is, not one of these things define a clear path to writing success.
All of them do. And so, so many more.
When it comes down to it, all writers basically want the exact same things: validation, compensation, and a sense that they’re fulfilling their One True Calling. We all want to feel valued and respected as creators. We want someone to pay us for our effort. And we want the self-actualization that’s supposed to come with fulfilling a life-long dream of Making Words Happen for a living.
So many of us spend hours, maybe even days searching for and putting into practice All The Right Things. Sometimes I worry that writers are too obsessed with doing everything as recommended to realize that figuring out how to succeed isn’t just trial and error — it’s also unique to every individual. I could go on for pages and pages about how I created my own success, but does that really help you build your own — at least step-by-step?
I want writers everywhere to understand that building a career is a process. There is no map, you don’t even know where you’re supposed to end up most of the time. You wander aimlessly, your hands hurt from typing, you feel like giving up every other day, and there’s no one telling you where you need to go next. You decide that for yourself. There are dozens of things to consider along the way — but at the end of the day, you — YOU — create your own path.
Thank you, dear readers, for asking so many amazing, specific questions. I will continue to answer them to the best of my knowledge. In fact, ask more. There is no such thing as a dumb question. It helps me get to know you, and what you’re struggling with, and where you are in your ‘journey,’ and where you want to go. I’ve been writing my whole life. I’m still figuring out how to Do Things. But I’ve made a lot of progress in the past three years. I want to share as much of what I’ve learned with you as I can, if you’ll let me.
The secret to writing success … is that there are many well-known strategies that have worked differently for many different writers. I wish I had the time and space to go over all of them here. I’m sure the things I have to keep in my head for now will end up in a book someday. Until then, a me some qs. Where are you? What’s making you want to chuck your laptop out the window? What isn’t working for you? What do you hope to find on this blog, that you haven’t found yet? Let’s continue this roller coaster of a journey together, shall we?
Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a staff writer with The Cheat Sheet, a freelance editor and writer, and a nine-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.