Strange business this writing stuff; we get so involved in the creative process that the other jobs, seemingly more mundane or prosaic get pushed back.
To be a writer one simply needs to write. To be a prolific writer one needs to write a great deal. We can dedicate our whole lives to writing and ignore the mundane; forget washing, cleaning and even to a large extent eating.
We can become writing machines putting all of our thoughts on paper, tablets, computers or dictaphones.
So it really is true that anyone can be a writer.
There are of course some really big “buts” coming:
- You can spend your whole life writing to the exclusion of all else BUT it doesn’t make your writing good.
- You can spend your whole life writing to the exclusion of all else BUT it doesn’t pay the bills.
- You can spend your whole life writing to the exclusion of all else BUT it doesn’t feed the family.
- You can spend your whole life writing to the exclusion of all else BUT that isn’t very professional.
So if you are no longer satisfied with your status as a happy amateur, if you want to find a wider audience or swim in a bigger pond then you’ll need to become proactive, make some changes and embrace some of the things you haven’t done yet.
In my case I began the process by looking at what I could do along with my writing to start to develop a career doing this thing that I love. I’ve always been something of a teacher, I love the feeling I get when I’ve helped someone learn something new, gain confidence or learn new skills so passing on my love of writing to others was an obvious choice.
Over the last 12 years or so (from long before I considered writing as a career option) I’ve produced and delivered a good number of workshops for writers. More recently, as a serious career step, I created several new workshops ready to deliver to anyone from the age of about 8. I got myself bookings and ran workshops and readings with consistently good feedback and towards the end of the year it was time to stretch myself again. I’ve still some areas to push a bit more to consider myself more professional and these include:
- Producing some proper publicity materials
- Actively promoting my workshops to new organisations and schools
- Developing communications through a mailing list
- Developing some new workshops and materials for 2017
- Developing a new market in staff development and inspirational talks
- Developing a longer term plan – something to carry me through the next few years
So what else?
- I’ve started submitting some work to publishers
- I’ve started entering some work into competitions
- I’ve taken my work to new audiences
- I’ve learnt to make audio recordings of my work and use those recordings for publicity etc.
These might seem like simple everyday tasks, and in reality they are, but in the development of a writer they are either milestones or hurdles to be passed before moving on to the next level. Perhaps some of these are made more difficult by the writers’ biggest hurdle “the fear of rejection” even though rejection is common for even the most successful writers. It is important to see each rejection as what it is, i.e. that the particular piece of writing in that particular form didn’t meet the needs of the person rejecting it. It might be that the writing was not good enough but assuming that you are serious about developing as a writer then you’ll want to improve the writing and make it better.
Occasionally a plan doesn’t quite work as anticipated, for example when the “sound guy” at your biggest gig of the year forgets to press the record button. The most important thing in those situations is to keep on moving forwards and not to be held back by worries about what might have been.
So as we head into a new year I’ll be concentrating on these areas but of course none of that is worth a minute of your time unless you continue to create new writing – there’ll be more about new writing in my next post.