Going Pro

Many authors enter the field rather slowly, much as if they were going swimming in a lake. They like to stick a toe into the water, test it out, and see how it feels. They don’t go screaming into the lake, leaping in like maniacs, committing themselves wholly.

I don’t blame those who are cautious. I like the idea of “trying it out” to see if writing is for you. But how do you make that decision to really commit yourself and go pro?
Here are a few questions to ask yourself.

  1. Do I really love to write? By this I mean, is the act of writing so fulfilling that you think you want to do it for the rest of your life? For me, as a young pre-med student, I began writing and found that it was all-consuming. If you feel that way about writing, it’s a good sign.
  2. How do others like your writing? Do you get good feedback when you send a story through a writing group? Are others excited, begging to see your finished work?
  3. Are you winning any contests or getting an occasional paycheck from a story, poem, or article?
  4. When you read other people’s works, do you find yourself rewriting their passages in order to make them better? I’ve always felt that you should have a healthy respect/contempt for other writers. In other words, when you study others’ prose, if the writer does something great, you should notice, and if they mess up, you should notice. If you hold everything in contempt, your literary sensibilities are probably off, and unless you’re William Shakespeare, you might need to get rid of your hubris. At the same time, many bestselling writers have glaring faults, and you really ought to be able to recognize those, too.

Unfortunately, many people who want to be writers spend their lives working for others. If you really want to write, if others love your work, if you really do feel like you can learn the craft, then you can take the steps you need to in order to go pro.

I did it by scratching out time to write every day and making it my priority. As I began getting an income from my writing, I increased my commitment over a period of three years until I could move from a full-time job supporting my family down to a part-time job, and finally transitioned to full-time writing.

The rewards were great. I never did like the pressure of working in a corporate environment, and by the time I transitioned to full-time writing, I was making much more than I had as a department manager.

Making the transition to becoming a full-time writer required a lot of thought and preparation. I focused hard on developing great writing skills, but you really also need to learn the writing business—how to write for the global markets and deal with publishers, agents, movie producers, and so on.

So if you’re eager to become a full-time writer, take stock of yourself, then develop a plan to get you where you want to go: and follow it.

And the Plot Thickens (Masterclass)

March 7th – 9th I will be teaching a masterclass in Provo, Utah that will be focused on crafting a powerful plot. Learn more or sign up here.


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