This Post Brought Forward and Updated Some…
(I thought this would be a fun topic to bring up again. This is from a bunch of years back and was only part of a daily report post.)
I got a question from a writer about what full time writers there were and if I would recommend some of them to study to see how full-time writers did it.
Well, I am about the only long-term full-time writer who does this level of honest blogging about my life. But my way of doing things is not the only way by a long, long ways.
I tell writers to find their own way. What works for me might not work for you. You will only know if you experiment, but most won’t. It seems writers right from high school know what is right for them and breaking out of that belief system is almost always what holds writers back.
But all that said, there are some basics I have mentioned before about full-time writers and traits we all seem to have in common. Not all, but many. And we did a workshop on this very topic for a while about two years ago called “Essentials” which was basically the essentials needed to make a living with your writing. (It dated and is no longer available.)
So let me list a few of the top factors I see among my friends and other long-term professionals.
Top factors (my opinion only):
1… Complete and total love of story of all types.
We consume story and always have, it seems, from movies, comics, books, games, you name it, if it has a story, we consume it.
2… Writing is not work, it is who we are.
Sure, we might get discouraged and stop at times or do something else, but writing is always there and it is always who we are. It never occurs to us we have put in a long day when we are writing. For anyone else that would be like saying, “I put in a long day today living.”
(This is why I always tell writers these days to just have fun.)
3… We are, almost without exception, prolific in our own ways.
Definition of prolific varies, but as years go by, the numbers add up. Often with many long-term writers, much of the writing is hidden in various ways, from articles to introductions to nonfiction books to blogs and on and on.
4… We study craft all the time and never let business get far from our attention at any given moment.
This varies from writer to writer, but all long-term writers I know are good with business in one form or another, really good with taxes, and have adapted their lives around the writing, not the writing around the lives.
5… Longer-term writers like me and Kris, almost without exception, try to help younger professionals when we can.
Most are not as overt as Kris and I or Dave Farland or Judy Lyn Nye or Keven J. Anderson and others. But it is there, either by apprentice like Mike Resnick does or by writing books like Stephen King does or giving speeches like Neil Gaiman does.
6… We have never stopped for very long.
In other words, we are the ones who didn’t quit when knocked down, when things went bad, when the money stopped and no one would buy our work. Long-term writers are writers who never knew the word quit, or at least not for very long.
In our new bookstore, we have lots and lots of older science fiction books, and I can run my hand down the line of books and see name after name that were either hot young writers at one point or sold a few books and quit. They are now what-ever-happened-to writers.
The difference between me and them. I’m still here and writing and they quit.
The secret to being a long-term writer????