Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Slide, Leap or Climb into Writing . . . and Accept the Results

Slide, Leap or Climb into Writing . . . and Accept the Results I’ve shifted in how I talk to writers who contact me, asking for my advice on their particular journeys. Before I guide them on agents, contests, grants and the general â€Å"how can I start earning a living at this† questions, I ask: â€Å"What are you trying to do with your writing? What are your goals?† Most say: â€Å"I want to get published.† â€Å"I want to work full-time as a writer.† â€Å"I want to make money and I like to write.† Then I ask what they are doing about reaching that goal. I’ve yet to find a single writer who has an answer to that question other than â€Å"I’m writing this story†¦Ã¢â‚¬  There are three ways to become a professional writer. I use the word professional as the opposite to hob SLIDERS You are watching everyone else. You are also reading blogs, attempting to make â€Å"friends† online in various places with some of them, joining chat groups . . . all in the name of talking about writing. You exclaim over someone’s success, saying you hope to do that one day. You bash someone the media is already gnawing on, proclaiming them blasphemous to the profession. You write when a good idea strikes. You pick up an old story and piddle with it during NaNoWriMo. You enter a contest or two, blaming nepotism or good-old-boyism when you do not win, or you are honest and say maybe you still need to work harder. LEAPERS Well, damn, you’ve decided to be a writer. Today, this instant. Where can you submit? How do they pay? How long before you have enough to pay the bills and dump the crazy job you hate? You are now committed to being a writer, and you’re going to take the leap and see where you land. Ray Bradbury said leap and you sprout wings on the way down. If the concept is good enough for him, it’s good enough for you. CLIMBERS You want this title WRITER, maybe even AUTHOR one day. The goal is on that peak way up there, where you’ve published and earned a living as a writer. You see others grabbing flights to that peak, but you’re using your feet, your hands, the tools at your grasp, and taking the journey one hard, craggy step at a time. You do not want to reach that peak too soon, for then you have to prove to people what you know. That knowledge is in each step, each slip, each backsliding effort that makes you regroup and grip harder, dig in deeper. It might take you a while, but the fear of reaching that peak prematurely gives you the incentive to embrace the journey up the mountain. Not only will your muscles be stronger, your self-esteem deeper, but if you somehow stumble and fall off the mountain, you know exactly what it takes to get back up there.

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