By zoupskim on Jan 5, 2018 at 6:12 AM
  1. zoupskim

    zoupskim Contributor Contributor

    Jan 11, 2015
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    Making it in 2018 as a Writer

    Discussion in 'Articles' started by zoupskim, Jan 5, 2018.

    I'm not some great author...

    But I've gone from an unpublished cautious scrub slowly and gently poking around for ideas and lessons on the internet, to a driven confident writer who ONE:

    Knows what they want to say and TWO... Knows how to say it. Here's what this website and it's amazing people have taught me in the last year.

    1. Fail:

    Write what you want, post it fast somewhere, and wait. ... Wait.

    Let those critiques come in, and SHUT UP!


    Let people tear your baby apart. Let them be honest. You need to learn to accept negative criticism. Let people tell you what they liked about your work, and what was wrong with it. Recognize when smarter better people are giving you good advice, and use it. There'll be positive feedback, sure. But pats on the back don't help you get better. Learn to thrive on advice that points out flaws in your creations, so you can get learn to write like a pro.

    2. Write what you want:

    What are you thinking about right now? What's in your head, right now, that piques your interest? Do you like TVs? Are you a TV expert? What about wines? Do you know the perfect wine to mix with late nights when the sun is still so hot it manages to light and warm the room through the blinds?

    What consumes your thoughts when you're alone in the dark, because THAT'S what you should be writing about.

    Don't follow market trends, or research Fandango for 50 shades of bullshit or hunger game knockoffs. Those people made millions because they wrote what they wanted, and they got rewarded for it. Write what you want, and you'll be writing something real and true and magnificent.

    3. Write every day.

    This may sound insulting and stupid, but I'm going to say it because some people need to hear it. To be a writer you need to want to want to write.

    Andy Weir didn't write The Martian so he could sell millions of books and become famous. He posted blurbs on a blog because he wanted to write. It was something he did every day, because he loved the subject and the idea of conveying his love of space exploration through writing. J. R.R. Tolkein wrote a genre defining magnum opus as a side project he sent to his son before it ever saw a publisher.

    Great writers are ten(10) steps ahead of their own fame. If you've written a masterpiece, by the time it's changing the world you're probably ten chapters into you'r 3rd book.

    Because you're a writer.


Discussion in 'Articles' started by zoupskim, Jan 5, 2018.

    1. Kenosha Kid
      Kenosha Kid
      I'm still a noob but all of this rings true to me. The only problem I have is time. I'd love to write every day, but there are so many demands on my time. What I might add to this, which I can do, is think every day. Even if you can't afford to sit down for a few hours and properly develop something, you can use all those little downtime moments to really think about what you want to say/depict.
    2. Tenderiser
      I don't think #2 and #3 are the best advice for "making it", but definitely agree that you need to learn to take - and even WANT - negative critique. It really is so much more useful than positive (though you need a few head pats, too.)
    3. The Dapper Hooligan
      The Dapper Hooligan
      I agree with negative criticism being more useful. As much as I like positive feedback, I'm generally more distrustful of it because I never know if it's legitimate feedback or someone just trying to make me feel better or trying to spare my feelings.
    4. Vince Higgins
      Vince Higgins
      Writing is therapy. Writing a best seller that gets made into a movie starring Matt Damon would be incredibly therapeutic. I'll take what I can get.

      As for #2, If I am not into it, I can't do a good job writing it.
    5. DeeDee
      Well, they are if we assume the advice is aimed at writers who are inherently talented and relatively self-sufficient. Their skills are enough to let them self-improve via writing everyday, writing whatever they want and not being afraid to show it to the public. And that's very inspirational to hear since it boosts confidence, well-being and whatnot. But if the advice wants to be encompassing, then there should be a "learn more about writing" added as 4. , for those that need to improve the technical aspect of their writing. :read:
      zoupskim likes this.
    6. BayView
      I don't think even talented and self-sufficient writers should write what they want if their plan is to "make it". That is, unless what they want also happens to be marketable, etc.

      For me? I would ALWAYS write second person if I could. I don't know what it is, but I frickin' LOVE second person.

      I may be the only individual on the planet who feels that way. So, since I want to sell my stories, I don't write second person. Sigh.

      And I also don't think writing every day is good for everybody. For those who thrive on routine? Great. But for those of us who are "binge" writers? It's much better for me and for my work to write 15K by writing 5K a day, 3 days in a row, and then taking 12 days off, than it would be to write 1K a day 15 days in a row with no time off.

      Learning more about writing? Sure, I think that's important for everyone, talented or otherwise. So then I'd agree with 1 and 4, but not 2 and 3!
      Last edited: Jan 17, 2018
      zoupskim likes this.
    7. ChickenFreak
      I'm unclear on the definition of "make it".
      zoupskim and BayView like this.
    8. zoupskim
      To me "making it" means to keep writing and learning about writing. "Making it" means I finish books and stories, instead of just letting them rot in my head as ideas, or on the web after a few critiques.

      Last year was a huge success for me: I finished my first book and an anthology of short stories. This year I'll work on traditional publishing for book 1, electronic publishing for the anthology, and outlining for 2 more books to write in 2018 and 2019. This year I begin training for a new MOS where I'll be writing professionally for the military. It's a dream come true. My hobby has become my job.

      That's "making it" for me. I'm writing books, and planning to write books, and nothing can stop my momentum. The 3 steps here are what helped me become a writer, especially 1 and 3. If by "making it" people think I mean Stephen King, with 10 trillion copies sold, I don't have experience with that. Maybe someday, but it'll be a surprise to me when it happens, because I've made it already.

      Because I'm a writer.

      Also, 4 is implied by 1 :p
      Lifeline likes this.
    9. ChickenFreak
      People tend to interpret "making it" as being about money and fame. If you're talking about satisfaction and accomplishment, I suspect you'd get more discussion with a different thread title.
    10. Tenderiser
      I don't think writing every day is important or even desirable, and I'm not sure what it has to do with talent or self-sufficiently. Every productivity study agrees that breaks, both short and long term, are very good for people. Working every day, and forcing yourself to work when you don't want to, is nonsensical. If you like writing every day then sure, go ahead. But I don't think it works as general advice.

      Likewise, write what you want works fine when you're the only person involved. Once you what readers, you have to consider what they want to read. If you want to be a bestseller then don't write erotic children's novels.
      BayView likes this.
    11. Foxxx
      Lovecraft (and other posthumous cases) were so paradoxically ahead of their fame that they died before it was realized, and the whole world had to catch up.

      I don't know if you need to necessarily write every day, but most people I know do not *always* want to write. Their muse is not permanently with them. Sometimes inspiration or motivation escapes them. Life happens, and we're human beings. But what sets the more successful few apart from the rest of the pack, is their sense of professionalism. That is, to sit down and just do it anyway.

      Forget the notion that you're always going to "feel like doing it", because you likely won't. The novelty almost always wears off. Obviously I can't speak for everybody; this is just what I've generally observed in others as well as myself.
      Last edited: Jan 19, 2018
      deadrats likes this.
    12. BayView
      I think it's a mistake to strive for "professionalism" if you're not a professional writer. Most of us have day jobs that pay the bills, and that's where we need to focus our self-control and discipline. I'm not saying it's a good idea to be a flake or make promises you can't keep or say stupid things in your writing life, but in terms of scheduling priorities? Writing is fourth on my list, I'd say, and it's tied with a hell of a lot of other things that are fourth...

      Writing, social engagements, exercise, reading, other hobbies, keeping informed about socio-political issues, enjoying nature, pointless debates on on-line fora (yes, this should be further down the list, but apparently it isn't...), etc.

      I can't justify bumping "writing" up to the same line as "work" until I can make enough money from writing that work is no longer necessary.

      So, in simpler terms - if I have a busy week at work, I'm not gonna write, and I'm not gonna consider myself unprofessional because I don't. I'm being professional to my actual profession.
      Foxxx likes this.
    13. big soft moose
      big soft moose
      so you don't think 50 shades of teen will be the next break out success ? :D
    14. Foxxx

      When I talked about a sense of professionalism, it was strictly in the context of the last paragraph: "forget the notion that you're always going to feel like doing it, because you likely won't... the novelty almost always wears off..." Sit down and do it anyway, assuming you have the time and other obligations are not what's interfering.

      The exhaustion of completing other obligations doesn't - for me personally - count as an excuse to not write. Admittedly, mine is a different situation; I essentially feel that way perpetually because of clinical depression, so if I stopped writing because I don't feel like it (see: 24/6 I don't feel like doing anything other than lying in my bed and hoping I die) then I would probably never write, ever. My habitual laziness or procrastination don't count as excuses either.

      I work under the "fake it 'til you make it" presumption, which is that the more I treat writing as if it is already my career, then the more likely it is to actually become my career. The sacrifices I'm willing to make are less time with family and friends (note: I said less time, not no time), and I entirely stopped playing video games months ago.

      But yes, there are other things that come first. As an adult, one needs to provide - at a minimum - for themselves, and this requires to have another job if writing isn't paying the bills yet.

      Kudos to you for being able to handle the stress of your numerous responsibilities in addition to daily life. It would certainly be a miracle if I could reach that point myself.
      Last edited: Jan 19, 2018
    15. deadrats
      What? I don't understand. You can be professional without it affecting your priorities. I try to be professional in everything I do.
      Foxxx likes this.
    16. BayView
      Like... a professional TV watcher? A professional friend?

      How are you defining "professional"?
    17. jannert
      I like a lot of what you said. Of course your working methods and priorities will be yours, and not necessarily shared by all other writers. But I love reading about what inspires other writers and what their working methods are. It's startling how diverse these inspirations and methods can be.

      I do like the point you made about writing what you want to write. Trend setters and people who come out of the blue to become monster writing successes 'overnight' are generally people who did just that. They didn't follow a trend; they started one. So don't be afraid to be original. Obviously if you like an established genre and are writing to please readers of that genre, that's fine. But that's not the only kind of success there is. If you want to write something that's unlike anything else you've ever read—and you have no idea who else might like it—just go for it! You never know. If you do a good job of it, other people may well decide your book is the best thing since sliced bread. And if you do a good job, YOU can be proud of what you've created. I think that's important as well.

      As far as writing every day, well ...that is important to a lot of writers. However, it's not a universal marker for success either. I remember reading a detailed interview with Anne Rice (a very very successful author) who says she often lets months go by without writing a single word. She is just letting ideas cook, maybe doing a bit of research, or just forgetting writing for a while and taking a break. So 'write every day' isn't something everybody has to do. Some of us are methodical beasts, while others are peripatetic and like the stop/start approach. All that really counts is this: Do you produce finished work? How you manage to do that is up to you.
      deadrats likes this.
    18. deadrats
      You're not trying to be taken serious as a professional writer?
    19. Carly Berg
      Carly Berg
      As an aside, it didn't surprise me to hear that you already have a high level career. I've noticed that most of the authors I know of who make a decent living as novelists were already successful at another career first. I guess it's because they already had a few pieces of the success equation down: Charting and following a course likely to lead to success, self-discipline, intelligence...
      GingerCoffee and BayView like this.
    20. BayView
      Beauty, too. Don't forget the beauty.
      Tenderiser likes this.
    21. BayView
      Well, I'm still not clear what you mean by "professional". If you try to be professional at everything you do I'm guessing you mean it as a synonym for... good?

      So, sure, I'm trying to be seen as a good writer.

      But for me, that's not what professional means. And in the context of the post from which I pulled it, I don't think that's what Foxx meant, either.
    22. Carly Berg
      Carly Berg
      Ha, when my son was in grade school, whenever I'd compliment him on something, whether a grade he got on a test or how well he cleaned his room, he'd say, "Of course. I'm a professional." Which probably doesn't really fit here but it just reminded me of happy moments. :)
      Foxxx and BayView like this.
    23. matwoolf
      I done some big stuff this week. Though the BBC prize is 8000 words. Do you think I might win with two and a half thousand? Its taken me five years, narrating every week. £15,000 for the winner...

      'Remarkably, the greatest work of this century is also the shortest entry in the...'

      That's what I've been hoping. Otherwise it's back to the glue system. Stick 'em all together, be kind of weird, jumping about the place. Or send them everything on the hard drive...

      'Dear Mister Macmillan-Penguin,

      I have but months remaining on this earth, sincerely I present my lifetime's ouef to you, and to Writer Forum.'
    24. Carly Berg
      Carly Berg
      I make writing goals at the start of every year but mine are pretty specific and don't include anything that's out of my control. For ex., I might say how many stories or books I want to finish but not how many I want to get accepted.

      This year I plan to stop writing just whatever I feel like writing and start paying more attention to where the money is. Once I started actually getting a small but steady royalty flow, I realized I could probably get a nice chunk more if I did consider what sells and what doesn't, so I guess that's what changed my mind. It seems like people always want to make writing what you like or writing for money into an either/or but it's not. This year, I want to write things I like that also make money.
      Foxxx and BayView like this.

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