Whether you are just leaving school, or you are seeking your 2nd or subsequent career, if you are considering writing as a career, you need to have some idea of whether or not it will suit you.
Writing is not going to be an overnight success story. Just put a few hundred, or a few hundred thousand, words together, and publishers will come flocking to your door. Life isn’t like that. As I’ve heard it said, the only place that success comes before work is in the dictionary.
Some people seem to come into writing almost by accident. They may have done poorly at school, but discover at some later stage of life that they are actually good at communicating, and then learn how to put their words onto paper.
Other people determinedly pursue writing for many years, usually while also doing a day job so they have some income. They suffer through a multitude of rejections, but doggedly continue. We hear about the success stories of authors who have eventually been published, but there are other writers whose work languishes on a shelf because they do not find a publisher, and don’t have the money or desire to publish their own.
Personally I feel that while some young adults or even children can do very well, the majority of successful writers are those who have experienced more of life before they start.
Do I mean to discourage young writers? Not at all. I am delighted when I hear of their successes, and encourage writers of all ages to ‘give it a go.’ Young writers have enthusiasm, which makes writing vibrant.
However, developing a writing career requires patience, especially with yourself.
You grow your writing career by writing. Not by talking about writing, nor by attending a multitude of seminars and workshops – though they can each contribute to expanding your knowledge of all aspects of the field – but by actually writing. Often. Preferably daily.
What is it that sets a seasoned writer apart from a novice?
- Experience of life. There is simply no substitute for experience. You can gain a wide understanding of people and places though reading other books, but an experience of life will benefit you and your writing in a deeper way.
- A willingness to apply consistent effort.
- A philosophical acceptance of rejection, so that it doesn’t destroy you.
There are other qualities too, such as insight and curiosity, which will help you along the way to growing your literary career.