Dreaming of Your Writing Career?

There are two camps of thought in the prevailing winds about writing and writers. #1 says if you think you want to be a writer you probably aren’t going to be very good at it, because if you have to “think” about writing as a career then you have already missed the point. #2 says that if you can string words together into passable sentences then our MFA Program, Writer’s Workshop, $99 Critique group can turn you into a writer.

Honestly you can find a thousand articles on the Internet to back up either of the above ideas. The thing is, neither are right and most of what they espouse is wrong. It is the same kind of thinking that keeps politics so juvenile. The Far Right vs the Far Left mentality has led to more hardship in government than all the graft and pork combined.quote

Now what does that have to do with writing? It is the same type of argument either you MUST be a natural talent who could have penned a Pulitzer at age 10, or you are an UNeducated idiot who shouldn’t be allowed to so much as publish a Facebook post. Really? Perhaps I drank the Kool Aid at my public school. I believe that you can pull yourself up by your bootstraps and become whatever you desire to be. If that is a writer, then by all means do so.

Let’s talk straight with one another. The two camps aren’t TOTALLY wrong.  The main thing the first camp comes up with is you should be naturally talented. Talent is nice if you have it from the git go. But I have found that those with talent to spare can’t handle failure. The talented people of this world think all the doors should open for them before they even reach for the handle. When the world, who can be a cold mistress, kicks them in the teeth they just quit. Talent can never beat hard work.

The main thing the second camp wants to sell you on is that of superiority. That you can earn superiority over others. Education will make you a superior writer, editor, poet…whatever. All the education and classes in the world can’t make you a successful writer. They might make you a successful teacher of writing. They might even help you get read faster than a non-graduate at a journal. Yet you’ll still get sent to the round file if your writing sucks. Is that really what all that money, time, and dedication should earn you? No probably not, but those are the breaks kids.

If you really want to be a writer in today’s globally connected world all you have to do is write and publish. NOW settle down back there! I didn’t say you should publish. Really writing is easy and fortunately or unfortunately (depends on who you talk to) publishing your work is easy too.

So what’s the nitty gritty? Both camps and the moderates, like me, can all agree on this one thing. You have to WRITE to be a writer. All the hoping, outlining, and lofty dreams of mint juleps on the porch with Faulkner won’t make you a writer.

Write every single stinking day. Write when you feel like crap. Write when you are over the moon happy. Write something. Every. Single. Day. Take classes on craft. Classes can only make you better. Do you have to use every tip or trick you learn about, heck no. You’re a smart cookie and you know that you will either live and breathe the snowflake method or (like myself) would rather die in a snowstorm than put yourself through that kind of misery. You become a writer the same way you become any other type of professional. You take hard work and mix it with your own brand a awesome. From there the sky’s the limit.

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13 thoughts on “Dreaming of Your Writing Career?

  1. When I first had the realization to be a writer it seemed so “far out there” for me, I thought that’s a silly pipe dream. But then, the more I wrote, the easier it became. I took continuing education classes to learn about the craft, attended conferences to see how the industry works and now i’m writing my third book. For me, I mixed learning with talent and feel I’m exactly where I should be right now. Great post!

  2. Great post. I like reading a bit of reality about the sellers of various courses and those who sniff at self-published writers. Yes, the best way to become a writer is to write. Getting paid for it is as hard as getting paid for anything.

  3. Conferences are great and I’ve learned a lot from workshops but it’s so true that if you don’t have the passion to write, all that doesn’t matter. Like any artist, most writers aren’t in it for the money. Even if I never sold a book, I’d still write! Really enjoyed this post!

  4. You tell ’em, girl! It was super encouraging to me when one of my fave authors said she was really struggling with a story and didn’t like it. NOT because I want her to fail, but because it told me that just because I’m struggling with a story, and the words aren’t dropping themselves on the page, doesn’t mean I can’t do this, and do it well.

  5. This hit home to me and my blog is so similar to this in how I view myself as a writer. I will say one thing – I was paralyzed at first with the concept that “I’m not Hemingway and how the heck do I have any write to publish my simple little thrillers.” When my husband says “Who reads Hemingway anyway?” I got up the confidence to let them out. I slave, get them edited and proofed and put out the best one I can. Nice post!

  6. I’m with you. If you want to be a writer, you should write. I find I can’t help myself. I write because I love it. I may or may not become commercially successful, but that’s not an essential part. I sing when no one is listening. I write when no one is reading. I paint when no one is looking.

  7. Excellent points! If you wait until you think you’ve learned everything before you put pen to paper, you’re still starting from square one! An excellent piece of advice I received early on was, “By all means, attend all the classes you can, read as many writing craft books as possible but don’t let the learning weigh you down. The best way to learn is to just start writing…and then with each new story, try applying just one thing you’ve learned from all those crafting seminars.” Write, write, write…and learn some things along the way.

  8. Writers write. It’s our stress relief, our self expression, our ministry. Making a career out of writing is completely another animal. That’s where learning the craft, enduring criticism, navigating the changing seas of publication come in. I have been a writer since I could a pencil. An author? That is a work in progress.

  9. I attended a conference where a speaker asked ‘how many of you want to be a writer?’ and hands flew up. Then he said ‘show of hands, how many are writers?’ Very few hands went up. He paced the room a couple of times in silence then said ‘Am I to assume the rest of you are hobbyist and don’t write much?’ Silence ensued. He continued ‘If you write, you’re a writer. If you get paid for it, maybe you’d want to call yourself an author.’ I realized at that moment, I was constantly writing but wasn’t taking myself seriously. That changed. I no longer wanted to be a hobbyist but a writer, an author. Today my mind is constantly working on something about writing – be it a subplot, a piece of dialog, or another possible novel idea. My mind is always watching and listening – a sunset, a great line, a unique character trait. You learn by doing. The teacher can show you how to solve a math equation but until you attempt to do it by yourself, it won’t click. The same holds true for writing. Thanks for a great post.

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