This Writer's Life · Writing

What Kind of Writer Do You Want to Be?

Many years ago, before the age of the internet, I was a great reader. As a writer, I used to envy particular authors the amount of books they had published. I would always make it a habit to look at the list of books a particular author had produced and whenever I saw a long list, I couldn’t help but envy them their output. That was the kind of writer I wanted to be.

These days, I would still love to be a prolific writer, but recently as I have taken a step back from social media, I have begun to look at things a bit differently. There is a life outside of writing; we have other interests, perhaps employment and a family and household to take care of. There is a lot of talk from ‘experts’ of what we writers should and shouldn’t do; that the only way to be successful is to keep on running on that hamster wheel.

Yes, there is a lot of good information out there; however, we also need to be aware of what kind of writers we really are. The majority of the conversation tends to be on writing novels, but not everyone can write one. A few years back I read a blog post from an indie author that basically said that writing short stories may be ‘fun’ but they are no way to build a ‘successful’ writing career. Now I get where this author was coming from, but this statement still managed to irk me. Who is to say that a short story writer cannot be successful? Besides, everyone’s idea of success is different, just like we are. What works for one person does not necessarily mean it will work for another.

The disadvantage to the internet is that there can be too much information out there, which is why it is important to take a step back occasionally. I was always one to devour blog posts from other writers, yet I felt the need to cut down on that too. It would appear I am not the only one feeling like my head is spinning from all that noise. Recently, author and blogger Kristen Lamb wrote a blog post stating that in this new age of publishing we have options – that it’s okay to take our time.

James Scott Bell had this to say recently on how to avoid burnout:-

The pressure comes when the writer who wants to make good dough at this thing (even a living) realizes that the only “formula” is to keep producing quality work at a steady pace. Notice that word, steady. I believe this is the key to avoiding writer burnout. Every writer has a sweet spot where production meets life and stays on its side of the fence.

I’ve found that spending less time on social media has been liberating and is gradually renewing my love for writing. As I’m unpublished, I have found social media has been great for networking and blogging has improved my writing skills, but now it’s time to take a step back and really focus on my stories. I want to go back to basics and do some courses (yes, I’m looking at you James Patterson) and brush up on my craft. As much as I’ve always wanted to be a prolific writer, I have also wanted my writing to be quality. As Mr Bell says, quality work at a steady pace.

Some authors may only produce one book or half a dozen in their lifetime, but their stories can create an impact upon their readers for generations to come (Jane Austen, the Brontes and Harper Lee to name a few).

If I could have a loyal fan base that felt that my writing was worth the wait, I’ll be a very happy writer. Anything else would be a bonus. 😉

Are you frustrated with all the advice out there? What kind of writer do you want to be? Have you felt the need to take a step back from the internet? What is your idea of success? Have you suffered from burnout?

Main image courtesy of Pixabay

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This Writer's Life · Writing

How Do You Define Success as a Writer?

success

We creative types have a tendency to dream big, and why not? If we want something badly enough, the sky’s the limit. Unfortunately, when we begin the hard work that is involved the get there we can feel as if we’ve been hit with the ice bucket challenge. This can be an especially daunting time for unpublished writers, like myself, yet we have an advantage over those already published – time.

During my university studies, one of the first subjects I undertook was on publishing and editing. One of the required readings stuck a chord with me and has remained ever since. It demonstrated the hard work that is required if we wish to succeed as authors (admittedly, though, some of it was rather extreme). This particular author did not discover fame, rewards or find himself upon the road to riches. He was, however, an extremely productive writer.

Born in 1907, Gordon Clive Bleeck is a relatively unknown author, yet he was one of the most prolific and successful fiction writers Australia has produced. He wrote in multiple genres, including crime thrillers, romance and science fiction. As well as writing under his own name, he also wrote under a number of pseudonyms – believed to number at around twenty-two (I told you that was extreme)! Some of these include ‘Brad Cordell’ for westerns and ‘Belli Luigi’ for thrillers and horror stories. In total, he wrote 250 novels or novellas – 150 of these were westerns, which were produced every month for nine years. What is also remarkable about Bleeck is that all this output was produced while working full time.

Admittedly, he may well have had a particular formula for some of his books, like the westerns for example, but so does Mills & Boon and we all know how successful they have been over the years. Regardless, it is still an extraordinary achievement and clearly he had an audience for his work.

As unpublished writers, we not only have time on our side, but we need to make sure that the writer’s life is for us. It’s not going to be easy, no matter which road we take, so we need to be prepared to be in it for the long haul. We become writers because we love stories, and like any other art, it pleases us when we see other people enjoy our work. To me, to become a successful author means writing my stories, getting them published and finding an audience that love what I do. If I’m extremely productive in this process, I’ll be very happy indeed.

How do you define success as a writer? Are you prepared to do what it takes? Are you making the most of your time as a ‘pre-published’ author?

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