Writing has taught me more about business and life than I could have hoped for. I knew it would be a tough career getting into it. After all, the readers today are not the readers when I was growing up. Times have changed and so has the taste of everyone. To put that into perspective, I'm twenty-one and so much has changed. Here is what I know.
Writing for the Market Doesn't Work
I was an entrepreneur before becoming a writer. I taught and sold courses. On top of that, I was in one of the most complex and restricting careers. I was a programmer. My limits were clear and my interest lacking when it came to stretching them. Writing was a career I considered ever since I was younger, so choosing to become a writer wasn't too big of a leap.
Yet, when I started writing with the mindset of a programmer, I soon learned I wouldn't get anywhere. My ideas on how to appeal to the market were falling flat and no amount of consistent writing would fix that. That didn't stop me from writing and I continued to push my short stories, novels and courses.
Only after several months did I realise it was time to make a change. That is how it goes. You don't try-try-try again until you succeed. You approach your problem from a different angle. Use what you learned from your first attempt to make sure it works with the second attempt.
Although it didn't make logical sense at the time, I decided to write what I felt I wanted to write. I stopped trying to push something that I thought would do well and instead push what I enjoyed. Not only was I working harder, but my quality was improving.
As you might have guessed, this not only improved work in my own eyes, but in the eyes of potential customers. Instead of appealing to a broad market of writers and readers, I chose to be specific. I found my market and as small as the market it is, I have done well. In a world so large and bustling with life, no niche is too small.
You Can't Ignore Opportunity
No career is going to be what you expect. When I started writing, I believed that the writer was a simple consumer. That was that old business mindset still in control. I thought I had everything under wraps, that I understood the market. I was a reader before I was a writer. These two go hand-in-hand.
Yet, I was present with several opportunities that seemed to not peak my interest. E-mails deleted, doors left shut. Being so confident, I believed that I knew the market well-enough. I believed I knew how to write well-enough. Yet, only my conceding and opening these doors did my eyes open with them.
You never stop learning, true, but I bet you didn't know this. You never run out of opportunities either. If you look, you will see they are everywhere.
I started reading the emails, I started answering the calls and soon I was not a writer churning out stories. I was an entrepreneur building an effective enterprise. Once you stop ignoring opportunity, you soon realise how small you are. With the help of others bigger than me, I started to improve in every way.
My writing quality was something that changed quick enough. Mistakes are easy to spot, but difficult to fix. Yet, I overcame that obstacle to meet another fallen tree in the road. That fallen tree was my business strategy. Something was off and it led me to a far more important conclusion.
I didn't know how to handle business and personal life.
Writing Needs Balance
Having heart is essential. You need a personality, you need character. The moment you start getting into a rut, you are a dead duck. What you need is to find yourself. When I say that, I don't mean 'spiritually' or 'physically'. When I say 'find yourself', I refer to learning how you work.
Some writers can roll out of bed and write from 9-5 as if it were a regular job. Others find that impossible to do, impossible to write every day. Some writers will jump at inspiration, spending months to years writing a single book. Not exactly a paying career, but that is how they work.
Like the 9-5 and the occasional writer, these people have found themselves. I soon realized I couldn't live writing now-and-then and nor did I want to.
I am ravenous for the written word. Reading and writing became bread and butter. I created worlds and learnt about them before they even existed.
It is only by finding who I was, in the writing sense, that I found balance. I found what worked for me in the day-to-day life. I found what helped me feed.
The Writing Trap and How to Avoid It
The writing trap sinks its steel teeth in you when you least expect it. The strange thing is, you see the trap. You are not wise to what it is though. The writing trap is the idea that writing a novel will soon result in fame and other forms of success. There are writers who read the rags-to-riches stories of the popular authors today.
Well, those gremlins got lucky. If you think I'm talking rubbish, read into it. These writers say the same thing.
Most talented writing will never make it to the light of day. The author will pitch, fail and leave it. Persistence doesn't get you anywhere unless you start taking extremes. Even then, getting noticed that way will only earn you the wrong attention. Not to mention reputation.
These are the writers who started writing for the wrong reasons and chances are, you are one of them. You can't start writing believing the path to the top is that easy to climb. If you believe you are a special case, a nobody who has a great shot at being somebody, you are delusional. Not to say that the desire to succeed is bad, but that is not the reason you should start writing.
You should become a writer, with the idea of success, but that comes second to writing. You should become a writer to write. If you write non-fiction, you write to teach. You write to keep record, you write make sense of something that isn't so clear.
If you write fiction, you write to create a world, to create escapism. To tell a story that can take people away, or take yourself away, from reality. Those are the desires, the purest and clearest, that you should have. I don't know if this applies to every career, because I never tried every career. Yet, I know that writing requires a writer at heart.
Whether fame finds you or not, once you start writing for the right reason, you made the right choice. It's something I learned quickly enough. My foot was hovering above the trap, all I needed to do was drop. By writing for writing's sake, I stepped over the trap and now I am writing unhindered.
Everything You Write Has Been Written
Not word-for-word, but trying to be unique is next-to-impossible in the world today. Some ideas have done better than others, but even the most obscure has been written. The ideas that one has are their own, which makes them unique enough.
The idea that a person can't write a medieval fantasy because of Lord of the Rings is ludicrous. If that were the case, Lord of the Rings should not exist after The Once and Future King. When people start analysing books searching for similarities in literature, of course they will find plenty. There many examples and parallels that can be drawn from one fantasy with another. Same goes with any other genre.
Do you believe you are unique in writing your detective story? Your fantasy story? Your action adventure?
Unless you are taking names, places and events straight out of other literature, you are unique. There should be no guilty feelings about you writing something similar. You have chosen to create your world. For you, this world will be better than any other similar worlds. That is what will make your story special, that is what will make it different.
I was not under the illusion that writing would force me to be unique. I never had an idea that was unique. Yet, I am a writer in my own way and the stories I write are my own. It is with that knowledge that I write with confidence. I draw inspiration from other writers, but I make sure that I make it my own. In every case, that means improving it to the point where I enjoy reading my work.
At least, as much as I can enjoy reading my work without my mind think of better words to use.
What Makes A Writing Style
My final point is answering something that should be clear to some experienced writers. You hear this a lot in the beginning of your career as a writer. What makes your writing style? Do you do this or that? What rules do your follow?
Most novices in the field think that there are specifics. That there are obvious rules that should be followed, or better methods. Yet, they are fooling themselves. There is no secret to what makes your writing style your writing style. You simple think and then writing. You say it in your mind, you touch it up wherever you like, you write it down. That is a writing style.
It is easy to think that by becoming a writing you need to find the right path. You believe that you should write a certain way. That isn't the case. What you choose to write is your own decision. You might hear a tip or twenty along the way, yet you decide what to do with that advice.
Do you adjust your writing style or do you keep it the way it is?
That will help you avoid this nagging thought. That is what will make you stand out. True, there are no doubt some writers out there who have similar writing styles to your own, but so what? You write the way you write, no more and no less. In that way, your writing style is perfect and you can let that thought rest.
That is the end of this article. These are some lessons that I have learned over the years. Some I learned early in their career and others only much later. Yet, these lessons are valuable and if you are struggling, I hope they help.
I have been writing for some time, pushing myself to write more. I hate to waste time. I hate procrastination. Yet, a part of me loves to avoid work with a passion. Still, willpower and passion drives me and no doubt it drives you as well if you have read this far.
If you have any other lessons in mind, be sure to check me out at thepennedsleuth. I love to receive more students to teach or more piers to talk writing with. Ideas and passion are valuable in writing, so spreading and improving it is essential.
I hope you enjoyed and happy writing!
Thank you for finishing this article. I had a lot of fun writing it and I hope you truly enjoyed it. There are many things you will learn from the writing experience and the 150 above are only a few.
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Thank you very much for reading!
Matthew Dewey, Writer
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