Don’t write for money. Write because you love to do something. If you write for money, you won’t write anything worth reading.
– Ray Bradbury
It’s time I seriously got back into this writing thing. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been writing daily with the exception of the few days last month when I had the plague.
Daily I’m challenged with emails and Facebook posts and blog posts that tell me that “to be a successful writer you need to do this.”
Whatever happened to just writing the great American novel and becoming rich and famous?
In reality, it was never like that.
But these days I’m told that I have to have a website, be an expert at SEO (Search Engine Optimization), have an email list and a newsletter, market myself to blogs, market my work on other social media.
That’d all be great if 1) I knew what I was doing and 2) time was not an issue.
And yet, I’ll never make gazillions of dollars as a writer
Steven King said:
“Writing isn’t about making money, getting famous, getting dates, getting laid, or making friends. In the end it’s about enriching the lives of those who will read your work, and enriching your own life as well. It’s about getting up, getting well, and getting over. Getting happy, okay? Getting happy. …this book…is a permission slip: you can, you should, and if you’re brave enough to start, you will. Writing is magic, as much the water of life as any other creative art. The water is free. So drink. Drink and be filled up.”
– On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft
So, you see the challenge of being a writer who wants to write full time.
There are those who’ve done it, and done it successfully. Most of us have day jobs, or night jobs, or weekend jobs, or a combination thereof.
Rejection letters come. Phone calls or emails aren’t answered. If they are the message is “we’re not accepting submissions right now.”
So, what’s a writer to do?
Honestly, I’m trying to figure that out.
I get the emails and notices about courses that will teach me to make $40,000 in seventeen seconds, or something like that, by writing the next great book.
You’ve heard me say this before. I don’t want to write a book in seventeen seconds, or a weekend, or forty days because I believe for the most part those books are crap. But they’re being written and sold and people are making thousands.
But it’s not real writing. It’s rarely good writing.
The challenge is though, if I want to be successful at this writing thing, I have to follow the advice of those who are telling me I have to do my own marketing.
The reality of today is that there aren’t just a few hundred really good writers out there with typewriters cranking out the next best seller.
There are thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of writers or wannabe writers who all have the same access to social media and the world that I do.
How do I stand out in that crowd? How do I make sure that my work is of a quality to rise to the top of the heap?
How do I find, and keep, readers?
The struggle is real.
So, I’m learning to be content with polishing my craft. I’m learning to be content with writing things I can feel good about. I’m learning to be content with the fact that some of my best writing may never be read by anyone else but me.
Along the way I’ll still try to get better at SEO, I’ll still keep my website, and I’ll still look for ways to be published.
I’m just not buying the beach house.
Not yet, anyway.
Maybe you can help me out. The first step, I think, is one with which I’ve struggled for some time. When you’re a multi-tasker with ADD, and you have an artist’s mentality, it’s hard to stay focused.
If you’re a long-term reader (and we’ve had this conversation) you know my posts can be all over the place.
Tell me in the comments. What do YOU think I’m best at? What do YOU think I should spend most of my time writing about?
What could I write that YOU might be willing to pay for? Don’t worry, I’m nowhere near having a product to sell.
If I built an email list from my readership, what would make you sign up to have me show up in your inbox every day?
Help me out here. Let me hear your thoughts in the comments.