By Amy Lillard
“What advice do you have for me?” It’s probably the most asked question of veteran authors.
I usually say, “Don’t ever stop writing, find a writers’ group for support and brainstorming, and never stop dreaming.”
But I realized there is so much more to writing than that.
There are essentially two kinds of writers. The first are those who write only for the love of writing. They have a story that burns a hole through them. Publication is an added perk if it is even sought.
Then there are writers who view it as a business. They write with two goals in mind: crafting a great story and making money while doing it. They are still creative and very much driven to tell a story, but their tale may be dictated by the market, what’s hot, and suggestions from other industry professionals. They have to push their creative process and write even when other pressures encroach.
I’m not here to tell you that one of these is right while the other wrong. They are merely two sides to a coin.
But I believe to be a successful writer, you have to know which one of these you are. After all, how can you define your success if you don’t know your goals?
I knew my goals early on. I wanted to stay home and get paid to make up stories. I worked at this every day for many years.
A little backstory…I first started writing historical romance in the early nineties. From there I segued into short contemporary romantic comedies. I love this genre, and I felt that I had hit upon my voice, but couldn’t get that one big break I was looking for.
In 2008, I signed with an agent and figured all my hard work was about to pay off. But three years later, I still didn’t have a contract. I decided to call her to check on my manuscript.
What I got was the best advice of my career. My agent told me to write something completely out of my comfort zone: Amish romance. When I hesitated, she said the most important words she ever said to me. “You are a writer. Write it.”
So I did. My sixth Amish book, Lorie's Heart, just released. Since learning to write about the Amish, I have stepped even farther out of my comfort zone of romance to dabble in mystery writing. I am now a full time author. Is it what I thought? Not exactly. Am I happy? You betcha!
I’m not telling you to go out and write a book about the Amish. But be open. Listen to those around you. And most of all, determine your goals. You can’t get “there” if you don’t know where you’re going. Remember, no wrong answers to that one.
I don’t have a test for this. That’s something you’ll have to figure out for yourself. But until you do, don’t ever stop writing, find a writers’ group for support and brainstorming, and never stop dreaming.
Amy Lillard is the author of more than twenty novels and novellas, including Amish and contemporary romances, cozy mysteries, and a few historical tales just to keep things interesting. She lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma, with her husband and son. Visit her online at amywritesromance.com and newsletter signup Also w/a Amie Louellen. Amy Lillard’s latest collaboration is with Authors Kelly Long and Molly Jebber on the anthology,