By Edie Melson, Social Media Director for Southern Writers Magazine
Most writers I know have come into the publishing business first as a hobby. For many, the transition from hobby writing to getting serious and treating it like a business was a difficult and scary transition. But with a little forethought, it doesn’t have be.
Tips for a Writing Life
1. Begin as you intend to continue. Actually this is a saying my grandmother used to quote me about a lot of things. Like many old sayings, there’s a lot of wisdom here. Basically it means to take the gift of writing seriously—whether you intend to earn a living or just write for the joy of it.
2. Put your money where your dream is. It’s important to invest in what we’re doing—even before we add the word professional to the description of what we do. Be willing to buy books, take classes (online and in person), travel to conferences and join organizations.
3. Give yourself the gift of regular time. Some people will tell you to write every day. But not everyone can do that. Instead I recommend you write regularly. Find a schedule that makes sense with your life and make your writing time a priority.
4. Create a healthy work environment. Becoming a professional writer means years of sitting at a desk and staring at a computer screen. A sedentary life-style carries with it health risks. Make sure your equipment is the best you can afford. A good chair, ergonomic desk, and adequate lighting are minimum necessities.
5. Track your expenses. Even if you don’t plan to write them off your taxes, get in the habit of tracking what you’re spending. There are many apps you can add to a smart phone, or just invest in a notebook and keep your receipts. Then, when you’re ready to make the transition you’ll have cultivated good work habits.
6. Cultivate the support of friends and family. Include those closest to you in the practice of your dream. Show them this is important to you and ask for their help and include them in your celebrations.
7. Find a community of writers. While we all need the support of family and friends, we also need a tribe of people who can give us perspective when we encounter the struggles all writers face.
8. There’s no one right way to do this writing thing. Yes, there are things we must do to file taxes, but each author runs his or her business differently. Get lots of advice and look at how others manage their professional life. Use what makes the most sense for you.
9. Remember that building a business takes time. An overnight success isn’t the way this publishing thing happens. Be ready for a marathon, not a sprint.
These are some things I wish someone had told me at the beginning of my career. But with these tips, you’ll find that making the transition from dreamer to professional can be a smooth process.