The Life of a Writer

A writer sitting on her porch watching the sun set with her cat

The first thing you need to know is that writing is not a method for you to earn money fast.

If you are looking for a way to get a lot of money fast, I recommend gambling or selling drugs (Please do not do this. It was a joke. Those are terrible ideas and you will ruin your life if you do them)

In all seriousness though, writing is not an effective get rich scheme, so don’t quit your day job until you become successful. 

Some authors don’t see success until after 10 years of writing.

Don’t expect to make much money at first no matter how good you are. It’s important to keep reminding your self that it is a long term investment.

Writing your story can take years, and the process of getting an agent, contract with a publisher, and your book finally on a shelf may take several more.

Should you become a writer?

Do you have what it takes?

I hope so!

Listed below is a basic list of pros and cons that come with living as a writer.

General Lifestyle

Making a living as a writer can be just as much like a normal job as any, though the amount of work is based on how much you get done rather than set hours.

A typical day consists of many things depending on what kind of writer you are.

Some writers spend all day every day just writing. Others are busy balancing writing with marketing, promoting, or working a day job.

Your lifestyle as a writer depends on how successful you are as a writer, and how you can structure your life around writing and everything else you are involved in.

Want more? Here is an interesting article by James Clear, on The Daily Routines of 12 Famous Authors

Hours

The working hours of a writer can be both a blessing and a curse. Could you finish your daily work in a single hour?

Yes.

Could you also take ten hours to write one paragraph?

Yes again.

Between the self managing and conditions of creativity coming and going, the amount of time it takes can vary.

The good news is that many talented writers are able to set aside a certain number of hours every day and fulfill their writing obligations.

You get to choose your own working hours and the time of day you want to work, as long as you can successfully meet all deadlines.

Writing goals and deadlines

Page sizes vary, but the average word document is around 500 words long.

To show publishers that you are making progress on your work, many will expect a weekly report containing certain number of pages for your work.

Daily word counts are one method many writers utilize to stay on track.

This means that if you hold yourself accountable to writing three pages everyday, you will need to type 1,500 words.

And don’t worry about keeping count yourself, most writing software has a tool that can keep track of word count.

By creating daily goals for word count or number of pages, you can break the mentality of trying write an entire story and just focus on smaller goals that take it piece by piece.

Staying on Track

One of my favorite tactics to maintain self discipline is grounding myself.

I am not allowed to leave or have any fun until I finish my work. Most of us no longer have our parents to tell us that we are grounded if we don’t finish our work.

After researching article after article, one pattern popped up enough times it cannot be ignored.

Successful writers develop their own writing system.

It all starts with building habits.

To do this, create a routine that you follow every single day without fail.

Example:

Wake up at 8:00am every morning. Eat, drink, exercise, take a hot or cold shower, then sit your butt down and get ready to write by 9:00am.

Once you are writing, take away any distractions like emails, phone calls, or social media apps until you have a break.

Write and keep writing whether the content is garbage or amazing.

Take a break for lunch. Usually the range is around 30min to an hour.

After your break is over, it is time to get back to writing again. Keep writing without distractions until you have hit your writing goal.

Once you are finished for the day, call it good. There is always more writing to do, but it also is important to have a social life and do more than just work.

Go to bed at an appropriate time so you are well rested.

Rinse and Repeat.

By following a writing routine, you are able to train your mind- and more importantly your brain- to focus on writing during certain parts of the day.

Overcoming writers block

So you followed your writing routine, but somehow you still can’t get as much done as you would like to.

Following a routine can become difficult, especially if you get a bad case of writers block and stare at your computer screen for an hour contemplating your existence.

If you get stuck, dont fall into bad habits like checking your phone or surfing the web.

This will mess with your brain’s reward system and make writing all the more difficult and undesirable.

Instead, come up with a method to overcome writers block.

There are hundreds of methods to get your creativity flowing. Look up different techniques online and keep trying them out until you find one that works.

Here are some examples I think help:

  • Go for a walk
  • Do push ups and sit ups
  • Play with something
  • Meditate for 15 minutes
  • Ask myself what would make the situation more interesting
  • Outlining
  • Skip the current section and work ahead
  • Read for a timed amount of time
  • Review the characters in the scene
  • Take a step back to think outside the box

Writing is like falling asleep. If you can train your brain into a sleep schedule, your can train it to follow a writing routine.

Pros

Writing is the process of bringing your thoughts and ideas to life. In ancient times, people thought that written words were magic.

You could make symbols and some random knowledgable person would suddenly see images you wanted inside their head.

Magic.

At its best, writing for a living is exactly that.

There are so many great reasons to start writing.

Feeling of accomplishment

IT TAKES A LOT OF WORK TO FINISH YOUR FIRST STORY.

If you have finished your first book or short story, I am proud of you.

It takes a lot of effort and determination to focus on one story from start to finish. You will have to fight perfectionism, doubt, and a host of other thoughts that eat at your mind while you struggle through.

That being said, just finishing is a reward onto itself.

Passion

For many writers, the passion to bring your thoughts and ideas to life is what drivers them.

Sharing your story is like giving a gift to randoms strangers. You can make them feel a range of emotions and feelings that can influence them in powerful ways.

Personally, I never had a strong passion in life until I decided to write.

Then, like getting caught in a never ending hurricane, my life and my purpose have never been the same.

Without the dream or pursuing writing, there would be a void. Something missing in my soul.

If you share this passion with writing or any or activity, you know just how reward the thought of it can be.

You are your own boss

NO MORE MICROMANAGING!

Sick and tired of your boss ordering you to work on projects you don’t care about and to do them in a way you disagree with?

Know you can work on a rewarding project your way and on your own time.

It is your book and you are in charge. You can publish it if you want or just keep it buried away as a precious memory.

Want to kill off every character?

Go ahead!

Stories are a work of art and you are the artist.

Craft it how you want, when you want, and in any way you want.

Whether you spend two weeks or ten years working on your story, the choice is up to you.

Obviously if you get a contract with a publishing company you will have to produce your work within a given timeframe, but that time is yours to choose when you work as long as you get it done.

When you are judged by your finished work, everything up to that point is in your control.

The Money

No matter if you write in your free time as a hobby or you do it professionally, after a certain point in time a few things are likely to happen:

  • You will write multiple stories.
  • Your writing skills will gradually be honed and refined.
  • The amount of followers you have will grow.
  • Eventually you will be able to profit off of your writing.

I can’t say if you will become the next best selling author, but even if you are able to sell a few hundred copies, you will be making some money.

Health and creativity

Writing as a hobby or professionally is a great outlet for your creative mind.

Unleashing your creative side when you spend all day doing statistical analysis and data reconfiguration (That is Chandler’s job right?) is healthy for your brain.

For many people, writing can be a therapeutic process. The act of being in control of characters and their lives gives you a sense of empowerment.

Written communication skills

Simply put, the more time you spend trying to communicate, the be get at it.

You spend hours upon hours learning to communicate imagery and actions through words on a page.

Writing skills transfer.

You will write emails better, communicate your ideas better, and structure written concepts better.

Communicating has many more uses that just storytelling.

Cons

Nothing in life is ever perfect.

Especially writing.

Every word written and every statement made can and will be scrutinized.

Writing is difficult, and the pressure to perform breaks many aspiring writers.

If you are unsure that you want to travel the path to become a writer, then make sure you pay attention to the rewards as well as the consequences.

Loneliness

People are social creatures.

We need human interaction. Writing in a dark room by yourself all day with nothing but your thoughts, means at times, living in isolation and solitude

Quality is not black and white

Agents have a keen eye for talented writers, but judging the quality of your own writing is difficult to measure.

With everything going on inside your head, how can you ever decide if what you said or how you said it is truly great or utter garbage.

It can take years of practice before you can fundamentally understand how to create a captivating story that is written in a way that engages readers.

Mental health

Many writers are known to have mental health issues.

These include depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder.

With the pressures of writing, many authors risk falling to substance abuse, using alcohol, narcotics, and other drugs as either a method to cope with life, or to enhance their creativity.

Writing for a living can mean a life of living in you head. Make sure you can stand the one inside yours.

Pressure

Success is arbitrary and never certain.

One book could sell thousands of copies, and the next only a few hundred.

Make sure you can work knowing the odds are against you.

Your agent will need results.

Fans will want results.

You can’t blame writers block or anything else in life for preventing your from finishing.

Stress from meeting expectations will make you doubt your abilities and self-worth. Fighting those thoughts on a daily basis is a tough obstacle to overcome – especially if you are just starting out.

Opportunity Cost

Simply put, this is everything you will be giving up in the pursuit of becoming a successful writer.

  • All of the money you could have earned from a day job, part time job, or side hustle
  • Time spent with your kids, friends, and family
  • Building skills
  • Exercising and other hobbies
Focus and Determination

Set your sights on one story. No distractions, breaks, or starting on the many other stories bursting from your brain.

You have one goal.

To keep working on your current writing until you finish it.

You will have to learn the discipline to trust that other amazing opportunities need to be put off until later.

Fight through learning and prioritizing so many other things

To maximize the success and sales of your writing, you will need to incorporate many of the topics below.

  • Digital marketing
  • Graphic design
  • Editing
  • Publishing
  • Advertising
  • Merchandising
  • Storytelling
  • WordPress
  • Website design
  • Social Media
  • Blogging
  • Photoshop and cover art 

Published by authoraidwriting

Helping Writers Write!

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