Three years ago, I was like many of you. Just starting out. Not a clue which way to go. I had an idea for a book and that was it, but I wanted to become a full-time writer.
Fast forward a couple years, and I'm doing this for a living (on top of being a stay-at-home dad). I make a living writing fiction, but everything didn't converge until four months ago. So what did I do to get here?
If you don't want to hear a bit of my story, and think I may be tooting my own horn, feel free to read some of Joe's stuff HERE. He's much gooder than me anyway. 🙂
If you're like me, and you enjoy hearing what others have learned in hopes of avoiding potential pitfalls, and you want to see what it took for me to become a full-time writer, continuing reading, my friend.
1. I Stopped Looking For Permission
I learned basic grammar and story-telling in grade school. I took one mandatory creating writing course in college.
That makes me a hack. I am not classically trained. But who cares?
The second I realized that it was all about writing stories that I enjoyed, and that readers might buy, I stopped listening to people who said I couldn't be a writer.
You are a writer the nanosecond you declare it.
2. I Learned To Deal With Rejection
Bad reviews stink.
Not having your closest family read your stuff hurts even more.
I had to come to the realization that my closest friends and family were not my target audience and that one crappy review could not eclipse twenty or thirty great ones.
Rejection is everywhere. Learn to focus on the silver lining instead.
3. I Read Everything I Could About Being A Writer
I'm an entrepreneur so this one was right up my alley. The Internet makes it so easy. There are tons of websites dedicated to the writing. Do a search for “How To Be A Writer” and you'll get more than you could ever process.
The point is if you're going to be a writer, read about being a writer.
4. I Developed Relationships With Like-Minded Writers
I've talked about this in other posts, but I can't tell you how good it felt to find writers with the same mentality as me.
Guy and gals who were willing to type fingers to the bone in their quest for success. I no longer had my Marines, but I had something else. What I found were warrior writers.
Surround yourself with positive writers who challenge you to be great.
5. I Developed My Craft
The moment you think you've figured it out, learn something new.
Developing your talent takes time and gobs of effort. Luckily I'm imbued with this annoying habit of self-analysis. I think most of my stuff could be better.
That's not to say that I hold my work back. What I do is take classes and try to hone my craft while publishing as I learn. I'm always improving.
Don't ever stop chasing perfection.
6. I Discovered That My Stories Aren't Really Mine
I think a lot of writers get stumped because they think it's up to them to come up with a story. I am a firm believer that that's not actually how it works.
Think about it. When you look at a crumbling castle in Scotland a story probably comes to mind. When you happen across a teetering drunk you probably envision what led them there.
Before every writing session, I stop, close my eyes, and ask God (you may want to use the Universe or something less religious-y) to bring me the story.
I even posted this quote on my wall: “The story isn't mine. I'm just the conduit.”
As long as I remember that, and try not to force the story, I don't have a problem completing my novels.
Be the conduit, not the source.
7. I Learned About The Business of Writing
This is in addition to #3. I couldn't just learn how to be a writer. I had to learn how to navigate the business of writing. Like I said before, there's plenty of information out there. Take it in bite-sized chunks and apply the most important parts immediately.
Without business, there is no writing income.
8. I Gave My Stuff Away For Free
I know a lot of you hate this one. That's cool. The only problem is that it may be holding you back from being successful.
This past March I set my first book to perma-free. You read right. That book will be free FOREVER.
You're probably thinking, “Carlos! You're crazy!”
My answer to you: Only on Sundays.
Here's the truth. The more I've given away, the more sales I've made. A lot more.
This isn't my idea. Guys and gals like Robert J. Crane and SM Reine paved the way. But they planted the seed, and now I'm gearing up to do the same thing with my first three books in the Corps Justice series.
Stop being greedy. Give readers a chance to love your work without asking for a penny.
9. I Wrote
The most important lesson comes last. This is the big one, ya'll.
If I don't write, there are no books.
Without books, I cannot sell.
Without sales, I can't do this full-time.
More than one writer has said that the best piece of marketing they ever did was write their next book. It's true.
Every new book I publish sells more than the last. My readers want the next installment.
That's made me ramp up my plans which now include six to ten new novels every year.
You may (once again) think I'm nuts, but I love what I do. I love writing prolifically. After all, isn't a writer's only real job to write?
What's keeping you from pursuing writing at a higher level?
So, go do it! Go write your next book (even if that means your first one)! Spend some time writing your work in progress. Write for fifteen minutes. When your time is up, post your practice in the comments section below (then feel free to keep writing!).
If you post, please provide positive feedback for your peers.