So I’ve been contemplating writers–studying them, analyzing the quotes attributed to them on the internet that they may or may not have said, and picking apart the habits and rituals of successful authors–to get an idea of what it takes to make it in this finicky business. And I’ve come to the conclusion that, goddammit, I can do this. Partially because I did well on this “Are you right for writing” quiz on fantasy author Holly Lisle‘s website. (l loved her book Vincalis the Agitator). But also because I’ve been reading the siiiiigns man. And by comparing my habits and attitudes about writing to those of career authors, I’ve also come to the conclusion that I am qualified to write this blog post.
So if you’re wondering if you’ve got what it takes make good money as a writer, look no further, my friend.
5) You like to write
Stop booing me! I know it’s obvious, but it’s so obvious it’s turned the corner and become a trade secret. A lot of would-be writers spend time thinking about writing, and talking about writing, but when it comes time to actually write, it’s a struggle. I guess what I mean is you REALLY like to write. You’ve passed on, I don’t know pole dancing class or whatever the young people do these days, just because of writing. You have forgotten to eat because of writing. You have been staring at your screen at 3 am, eyes burning with the need for sleep because you didn’t want to stop writing. That is the kind of passion you’ll need to churn out books for the demanding masses.
4) You like to read
This one I feel is less obvious, but it shouldn’t be, because to write well you really do have to read a lot. Feel out the competition. See what you’re up against.
Steal some idea Get inspiration. At some point in your life, probably when you were a kid with tons of free time you could never hope to appreciate, you’ve finished a book in a day. Also, finishing a good story leaves you feeling like there is a hole in your life, a hole that, if you’re meant to be a writer, you’ll feel compelled to fill with a story of your own. For as Toni Morrison says:
If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it. –Possibly Toni Morrison
3) You like, even crave, alone time
You’d better, cause you’re in for a lot of it as a writer. Remember that time your friends were all drunk and having fun at the club at 1 am, and you just wanted to go home and watch Saturday Night Live but you couldn’t because the trains in Tokyo don’t start up again until 5 am and you’d be damned if you were gonna pay close to $50 for a 20 minute taxi ride? Well congratulations, you’re either over thirty-five or meant to be a writer! Both times that I won NANOWRIMO, and consequently both times I ever finished a first draft, it was a very solitary endeavor. To write anything significant it’s gotta be just you and that crazy brain of yours.
2) You’re a bit self-absorbed
Every writer I’ve ever known is slightly more self-absorbed than the average person. You’d have to be to believe that your random scribbling about your life, or vampires or teenagers in small-town America or whatever, is somehow worthy of being read by well, anyone other than you. And don’t get me started on when a writer gets even the barest whiff of success. We become downright insufferable. I mean, look at me, with my presumptuous blog on whether you should be a writer or not. Who the hell am I? But as the ancient Buddhist saying goes, if a hypocrite pontificates on her blog, and you sit down to read it…shut up.
1) You can write
Notice I didn’t say you can write well, because contemporary fiction has shown us that is no longer a requirement to make good money as a writer. What I mean is that you can write consistently, because passion can only take you so far. Sometimes writing sucks, and it seems like nothing’s coming to you. But if you’re meant to be a writer, then you’re something like a pen that never runs out of ink. It may seem like you do at times, but just buckle down and keep making circles on the paper, and I guarantee something will come out after a while. Furthermore, there are likely multiple story ideas floating around in your head, and you’ll be tempted to abandon your current love for something newer and sexier, but unless you’re having serious issues you’ve gotta hang in there. Stay loyal and see it through, because the most important thing writers do is write stories. That includes a beginning, middle and the words THE END. If you can do that, you’re well on your way to becoming a successful writer.
So what did I miss? Are there any other signs that someone is cut out for the life of a writer?