Part 2 – Ten Things Every Aspiring Writer Should Know by Sevastian Winters

I know you’ve been anxiously waiting for the next 5 tips, let me get out of the way and turn it over to Sevastian Winters. Sev, it’s all yours. 

Ten Things Every Aspiring Writer Should Know

about Writing as a Profession

 By Sevastian Winters

#6

Most of the work of a full time writer has nothing whatsoever to do with writing

Stephen King writes two thousand words per day. I can do that in about 3 hours. So what is he doing with the rest of his time? Easy! He’s conducting the business end of the writing business. Most would-be writers fantasize about sitting on a storm deck at their cabin in the woods by  a cozy fire, so engrossed in tapping out the plight of heroes and heroines that they are completely  unaware  of  the bear and bunny rabbit frolicking in the yard playfully with the deer and mountain lion, and surrounded by butterflies that flit about the property, teasing the little fishes in the pond by the tree.

Writing isn’t romantic. It is gruelling, hard work and most of being a writer isn’t even about the writing. It’s about all the work involved in editing, promoting, and selling what is written. Those of us lucky enough to endure this for a living look at Stephen King’s 2,000 words per day and wonder not how come he writes so few, but how he manages to find the time to write so many. If you aren’t ready to commit to being certifiably committed to an asylum, then writing as a profession is simply not for you.

#7

Readers are busy people with busy lives.

This is important information that every writer must understand to their core if they want to earn a living from writing. The title of this article is “Ten Things Every Writer Should Know about Writing as a Profession.” It isn’t very catchy, but in a glance, you had enough information to know what to expect…and to know if you wanted to read it.

Readers are busy people with busy lives. They ‘peruse’ non-fiction. If you really want them to hang on your words, write fiction. But expect to be poor.

Kurt Vonnegut once said “start your story as close to the end as humanly possible.” Wise words from a man who never wasted a reader’s time. In nonfiction, get to the point. In fiction, cut out the stuff that doesn’t tell the story. Grab your readers and drag them through your work and never let them breathe. If you do that, you can’t help but find your audience and your success.

#8

It’s not personal. It’s just Business.

Writing is a business. The ‘noble artist’ thing stops at the moment you type the last word of your first draft.

If you let your personal convictions about your work cloud your business sense, you may or may not succeed, but you will absolutely be miserable.

It doesn’t matter if you are writing fiction or non-fiction. There is no room in this competitive industry for a Prima Donna. I would venture to guess that every writer has experienced some degree of frustration with editors or customers who we felt didn’t grasp what we were trying to do… our titles, our subject matter, our approach.

As writers we find a lot of people to get mad at:

  •  Editors
  • Agents
  • Publishers
  • Readers
  • Ourselves
  • Other writers

Pretty much anyone who comes into contact with our work is subject to our vitriol if they respond with anything other than sincere adulation.

If you want to succeed as a writer, you are going to need to check your ego at the door. I know from experience. There are two major sources of revenue for whom I currently can’t write because once upon a time, I let my ego take over. Don’t do what I did. Instead, remember: It’s not personal. It’s just business. No matter how annoying, you are the service provider. They are the customer, and the customer is always right.

#9

If you don’t write on a regular basis, you can’t call yourself a writer

Don’t just intend to write. Write. Finish. Sell. Query, Write, Finish Sell. Repeat. That’s the gig you signed up for. Do it. No one cares about your Bejewelled Blitz score… least of all, your bill collectors. Nuff’ said.

#10

Accolades are Great, but They’re Also Stupid

We all like to be acknowledged for the work we do, but the fact is writers seem to need it more than most. I know I do. When’s the last time you thanked your doctor for doing such a great prostate exam? Mammogram? How often to you tell the guy at the convenience store how great he was at ringing you up? Wal-Mart? Look, I will give you that writing is a rare talent (Trust me… I happen to think most of the people making money at it suck). But it’s still just a job. Just like a doctor is expected to do a good job and a construction worker is expected to to a good job, and a sanitation worker is expected to do a good job, so too are you expected to do a good job. I remember a poignant scene in an episode of TV’s “Mad Men” when one character was complaining over a lack of praise from her boss. Frustrated, he shouted “That’s what the money is for.” If you’re getting paid for your writing, expect that you did a good job. Accolades are great, but they a cheap substitute for dollar bills. By means of disclosure, I got paid to write this post. That’s all the thanks I need.

Get to work… and good luck in your writing career!

Check out Sev’s new blog The Homeless Gazillionaire

What’s this all about?  At nearly 41 years old, I found myself having been in back to back relationships for all of my adult life (including 3 failed marriages) with very little to show for my 41 years on earth, and a ton of personal baggage that has made it impossible for me to sort out my happiness. So I am stripping away the whole facade and starting over from scratch.  It’s time to get healthy, happy, and whole. Welcome to my journey.
Related post:  Ten Thing Every Aspiring Writer Should Know about Writing as a Professional Sevastian Winters #1 – #5.

 What do you think of Sev’s tips?  Let us know in the comments below. 

16 thoughts on “Part 2 – Ten Things Every Aspiring Writer Should Know by Sevastian Winters

      1. Thanks for the info. I’m sure even my published author pals learned a thing or two. I know I did and I’ve been an editor for a few years now.

  1. Great article, and, as someone soon to be starting on the ‘getting paid’ part of my writing career, I’m grateful to you for posting it. (Incidentally my Bejeweled Blitz score is REALLY good. 😉 )

  2. I used Blitz as a really good way of relaxing my mind when I’m getting snarled up in stuff (usually research bogging me down) and as I play I usually talk myself through whatever’s causing the problem. It really helps to focus, and 9 times out of 10 the scores I get when I’m thinking about my work (and not about how to get hypercubes!) are among my best scores of the week. Doesn’t look too good on Facebook though, when I’ve just said: “I’m writing” and the next thing that pops up is a kickass BB score! haha!

  3. You wrote, “They ‘peruse’ non-fiction. If you really want them to hang on your words, write fiction.”

    Peruse means to read with thoroughness or care, or to examine in detail. To me, that sounds like “hanging on your words”. Am I missing something? Am I being a word zealot?…maybe. If so, I’m sorry.

    I’ve published both and agree fiction is the better path.

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