A writing career is something many dream about. Spending your days doing what you love most and getting paid for it, who wouldn’t want that? It’s true that writing is competitive, especially if you want to write fiction. However, some people succeed and enjoy a long career.
It’s easy to get carried away when we look at the glittering careers of J. K. Rowling, Stephen King, and John Grisham. The fact is that these authors are a minority and even they struggled before publishers accepted their work.
So, if you’re a writer or aspiring to be one, there are some truths you should know. Are you brave enough to read them?
1. Networking is Everything
Writing is about talent and moving people with your words. Write well, get noticed and build a successful career. Sorry, but that’s the romanticized notion! The truth is networking is the key to every writer’s success. It’s not what you can do, but who you know that matters. Full-time writers know how to find work and promote themselves correctly.
There are loads of writing forums where you can connect with other freelancers and building strong relationships with clients can open new doors for you. Many writers enjoy working alone, and the classic stereotype of creative personalities is that they’re introverts. However, keeping to yourself and not using social media, forums, and networking won’t get you much work.
Many writers struggle to make connections, but it’s not impossible. Creating a powerful LinkedIn profile, sharing your work on social media and being friendly with clients is essential to growing your career.
2. Talent is Just The Beginning
Your friends, family, and neighbors tell you they love your writing, so you must be good. Unfortunately, the writing world is full of difficulties. Talent is important, but there’s so much more to think about if you want success. If you’re lucky enough to be born with an active imagination and creative flair, then you’ll have a natural inclination towards writing.
Writing is a skill, and it needs to develop over time. If you rely on your talent alone, you’ll be disappointed with the results. Writers spend a long time creating first drafts, revisions, using grammar checkers and they never stop learning.
3. More Money? You’re Dreaming!
JK. Rowling went from a low-paid worker to multi-millionaire after writing Harry Potter. Stephen King had many jobs, including working as a gas attendant before he found success with Carrie. We get carried away when we think about these rags to riches stories. These writers are the minority, and the majority often have a different experience.
Most of us writers barely earn above a minimum wage, for a long time. We take jobs we don’t want, including writing about topics we have no interest in. There’s a possibility that you’ll make your millions and be one of the rare success stories. Technological growth means there are always opportunities for content writers to offer their services. Focus on writing full-time rather than making a lot of money.
4. Good Grammar Skills Don’t Mean Success
You’re great at spotting spelling mistakes, and people often ask you to check their work. Your diverse vocabulary is impressive, and you know how to construct a well-written document with no errors. That means you’ll be a great writer, doesn’t it? Writing is about so much more than correct spelling and grammar.
One of the biggest mistakes people make is to assume because they excel at punctuation, they’ll engage readers. Just because you have the technical skills, it doesn’t mean you’ll be able to use your imagination to create something interesting. Look online, and you’ll see dozens of spell and grammar checkers including Grammarly. They can correct your grammar, spelling, and punctuation, but they can’t write a brilliant piece of content.
5. Creative Freedom Doesn’t Exist
Anyone can be creative and think outside of the box if they want to. As a writer, you might have a unique idea, but will people read your work? We live in a world that is dictated by technology and celebrity culture. A hard-hitting piece on how we’re damaging the environment will often get less attention than the latest celebrity news offering. It’s a sad fact that many writers struggle with.
If you’re lucky enough to be financially secure, then you can write about anything you want to. Most writers have to look at trending topics, and appeal to the audiences wants and needs. If you don’t do this, then you’ll be living off ramen noodles and soup.
6. You’ll Never Impress Everyone
If you’re a talented writer, you’ll impress clients, readers, and critics. That will never happen! There’s always someone who’s got something to say about your writing, and your whole career will involve negative feedback. You’ll write something, think you’ve done a fantastic job, and the client will disagree. Two revisions later, you’re ready to tear your hair out. Guess what? This happens to all writers.
If you want a writing career, then remember the client is always right, and revisions are part of the process. One client thinks your writing is incredible, another never wants to work with you again. Resilience is everything, so learn how to accept criticism.
7. You Must Market Yourself
The hardest thing for writers, especially those who dream of writing novels is marketing themselves. Sales-funnels, branding and using social media are critical to any writers success, but we hate it! Wouldn’t it be lovely if we could just sit and let our imaginations run wild? Writers are moving towards self-publishing practices, which means they must make their work visible to readers.
Even if a writer has a publisher, they should never expect the agency to do all the marketing work. Think of marketing yourself as one of the less enjoyable aspects of your job. However, there are helpful strategies to take the pain out of the marketing process.
Are there any hard truths you can think of? We’d love to hear from you in the comments.