As a kid, I never really had a dream or even one particular thing that I really wanted to do. I can remember being eight, or ten and thinking it would be really cool to write. Not just write, but write stories that people really wanted to read. Being that young, and growing up where I did, that was never something that I thought could be a possibility. Sure we were always taught that we could do or be whatever we wanted, but I've always been more of a realist, and couldn't see a way to making that happen.
I've talked a good deal here about self-doubt, struggling to get through the writing, and a whole host of other problems that have plagued me. I do this because I know I'm not alone here and because I know how many of you have the same doubts, thoughts, problems. It's really great knowing that we aren't alone. But I hope talking about setting myself up as a writer will help someone just as much as you've helped me get through all those other emotions.
Writing is hard. This is not a new statement, but I think it's harder for some of us because we go into it looking at it as if it were some mythical beast we've got to slay. Or a quest that we're trying to reach the end of. Writing for me is hard because I make it that way. It doesn't have to be. I don't have to worry that nobody is going to like what I've done. And getting to that place in my own head where I realize that I'm the one making it what it is has been the longest part of my journey to date.
In 2011, I was back in college taking courses I hated. I had to have an elective, so I took a creative writing class. That class changed my life. It didn't teach me to be a better writer, or how to market myself, but it did light that long-dormant spark the eight-year-old version of myself had. It would be cool to write, but even cooler if I wrote stuff people wanted to read.
Now, here I am. It's 2018. I've pushed myself to try to learn this craft, and continue to do so. But more than that, I've got a drive that I never had before. A need to do something because I want to, and the determination to see it through. But how do you take that and turn it into something you can do every day?
Much like in 2011, it took a talk done by an indy author for me to see that writing every day to support yourself is possible. Don't get me wrong, I knew other people did it, I just couldn't fathom it, or see how it could be done. Thanks to that talk, I realized that again I was over complicating things. (Yes, I saw the pattern there too and am working hard on that.)
Being able to do something like writing isn't a mystical problem to solve. Yes, some people are really successful at it, and others are not. Does that mean they are better writers than you? No. Does it mean they even think of themselves as successful? No. I learned that in order for this whole writing thing to work for me I had to do two things.
1. Decide what being successful at it might mean to me.
In my case, I would consider it successful if it were something that I could do solely by itself, and that doing so would ensure that I could continue to do it. What does that long thing mean? I had to put a price on what I would need per month to be able to write full time. For me, that means making $2200.00 per month net income. It wouldn't matter what job I was doing, that's the number that I need to make in order to pay all of my bills, and put some money aside for retirement.
2. Start treating my writing like a business and less like a hobby.
To do this, I drafted a business plan. As many of you know, I've started freelancing. Most of my gigs have come from freelancing skills I learned at my old job, like being a PA, advertising, content creation for sites or blogs, but some have been from bookwork as well. My freelancing is part of my business plan. I give myself so many hours a week for freelancing, and then the rest of my time and energy goes into writing fiction.
This has helped alleviate some of my stress about writing to support myself, or "be successful". I've also started treating my fiction as a business as well. I've posted a little blurb in my Progress Journal on more of that if you're curious about a production schedule.
So, I plan to be more active with regard to these efforts through the rest of the year, and on this forum as well. I hope some of this post will be helpful, or at least inspire someone else here to start thinking of their writing in other ways. 2018 is the year to stop saying I'm going to- and to start doing.
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