Are you thinking about starting a career as a writer? If so, it’s essential to know the pros, cons, and unique challenges of taking this path. First off, not many people are cut out to be full-time authors, so consider yourself lucky if you have both the desire and the core talents to become one. Additionally, writing is an avocation that calls for a lot more planning than most other professions, primarily because the steep competition and crowded market demand that you know your stuff and have a second source of income while building up your writing resume. Here are four steps to get you started. Keep in mind that even though it might seem daunting at first, if you stick to your original goal, becoming a full-time author is within reach.
Brainstorm Your Precise Goals
When you hear the word author, what comes to mind? For most people, the field is all about novelists who write fiction best-sellers. In fact, that niche is just a tiny piece of the field. Most who make a living with their pens or keyboards are journalists, freelancers, ghost writers, technical specialists, and non-fiction book authors. Most who compose written pieces for pay are employed in the corporate world or toil as freelancers for dozens of different clients. Take time to sit down and spend an hour or more considering what niche best suits your aims and skills.
Have a Backup Plan
What’s the ideal backup plan for adults who want to delve into a serious, full-time career as writers? It’s a college degree, believe it or not. You probably already know that people who embark on acting, music, or standup comedy careers typically have a fallback strategy. That’s because some career paths are inherently iffy, and are no guarantee of steady, long-term income.
In other words, don’t give up you day job, or put another way, have a legitimate diploma in case your writing dreams don’t take off soon enough. The good news is that it’s easy to not only get a student loan but to research what the proceeds can be used for while you learn. For instance, if you’re operating a freelance writing business on the side, as many students do, you can’t use loan proceeds to pay for business expenses. However, you can spend the proceeds for anything school related, including books, tuition, room, board, fees, and similar expenses.
Study the Market
Do online research to find out what areas are easiest to break into. For instance, if you want to be on a creative team the comes up with TV scripts for sitcoms and soaps, be ready for intense competition. Freelancing and technical positions are much more realistic ways to pay the bills while you pursue other avenues like creating screenplays or television dialogue.
Workshop Large Projects
If you have a major piece in the works, like a fiction or non-fiction masterpiece, be sure to join a local writers’ workshop and get feedback about structure, content, flow, and other key components of the manuscript. Going it alone is neither wise nor profitable. Even popular literary talents like Stephen King run their books through workshop groups for early feedback and objective critique.