I’m prefacing this post by telling you that I am not an expert in writing-career-planning. For the most part, I have no idea what I’m doing. But hey, if you’re reading this, you probably don’t, too. Either because you’re an aspiring-to-be-published author who wants to have a plan, or because you’re an already-published author who still has no idea what you’re doing. Regardless of where you fall, you’re not alone. And this question should provide you with a (or another) jumping-off point:
What do you want from your writing career?
It seems like a straightforward question, yet many of the authors I’ve spoken to don’t know how to answer. Or if they do, it’s to say ‘I want to be published’ – that’s it. Wanting to be published is an excellent aspiration, but it won’t sustain you. Not for long. Because it’s easier than ever these days to be published. If you’ve written a book, you can self-publish; you can go with an independent publisher; with a digital-first publisher; with a digital-and-print publisher… You get the picture.
So, dig deep and ask yourself: what is it that you want for your writing career?
What would you want if you had no limitations? No fears? Honestly and unreservedly?
For me, it was for writing to be my full-time job. I knew this, at the back of my mind, but the limitations, fears, and all the other stuff kept me from realising it for the longest time. In fact, until I asked myself this question, writing had been my backburner career. You know, the one I’d work at while having an actual job to pay the bills. This in itself wasn’t a problem. It was realistic. We had bills to pay, and until writing could help do that, I’d have to do both. Except I was treating writing as my backburner career. I thought about it a lot, but didn’t do anything about it, to the point where I was making excuses not to.
Because it was my backburner. Which meant it wasn’t a priority.
And then I got to my final year of university. I was terrified of getting a job in corporate and it forced me to answer this question. I wanted writing to be my full-time job. So that’s how I treated it. I researched how to make it happen, found out about the Harlequin So You Think You Can Write competition, and wrote whenever I could.
It took this realisation to get my butt into gear. Which is why I’m asking you too: what do you want from your writing career? Defining what you want from writing might help you get your butt into gear, too. Which means making plans to help get you what you want. And having a plan will make you feel a million times better than meandering along, hoping that things will work out.
But what will those plans look like?
Ah, see, that I can’t help you with. Not because I don’t want to, but because there are so many different routes for you to go with. (Shall I mention your publishing options again?) And even if you have a plan, you’ll likely have to adjust it along the way. For example, I had a part-time job when I started writing for Harlequin. Which meant that while the money from my books was needed, it wasn’t depended on. And then the part-time job fell away and now that money’s depended on.
What I wanted from my writing has come true – it’s my full-time job – but it hasn’t come with the full-time money I’d expected. But I’ve adjusted. And adjusting has forced me to consider that question again: what do I want from my writing career?