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Does Your Writing Career Need A Boost?
What Do You Want?
You are a writer! Hopefully you now accept that fact. If you wake up with story lines in your head, or ideas for new articles, then you are a writer, so live with it. If you describe writing as a passion, then dance with the lady that brought you. Whether you are a novel writer, a web content writer, an article writer or just a writer without a direction, you are a writer!
However, simply describing yourself as a writer is not enough. We need to determine what you want from your writing. Without doing that you cannot accurately step forth and help your careers.
Maybe writing is not a career to you. Maybe all you want is to reach your readers but not sell them anything. Fine, but you still need to know how to reach those readers. The only people I am not writing to at this moment are those writers who could care less if anyone reads their work or not, and those are few in number.
So this article is for all of you passionate writers who have a goal. The following ten suggestions just might help you attain that goal. As always, take what you need and leave the rest of the next person who comes along. I would submit to you that rather than treat writing as a competition between writers, it would be infinitely more productive if we all helped each other as we travel this journey.
Let People Get to Know You
I am boldly declaring that the quickest way to make a connection with your readers is by allowing them to know who you are. What are your likes and dislikes? What are your passions? In this faceless world of internet marketing, and this dispassionate world of billions all reaching for their own toe-hold, I think it is crucial that you make human connections. It is my belief that people really do want those connections, and it is also my belief that they will respond warmly to a writer who drops his armor and appears before his/her readers as a living, breathing human being.
If you do not have a profile yet, make one, and make it detailed and personal. Allow your readers to catch a glimpse of the person behind your words. If you do have a profile then take a look at it and try to tweak it so it is not so stilted and lifeless. Remember that in many cases, your profile is the first thing a reader will see; it is the first impression they will have of you. Make it good!
GIVE IT AWAY
This idea flies in the face of conventional wisdom, but I believe in giving things away. I’m not sure how many of my first novel I gave away but I can say without a doubt that it is over twenty. Now each book cost me six bucks in publishing costs, so I basically gave away at least $120, but to me it was worth it. From those giveaways I received some great reviews, and what value does one put on free word-of-mouth promotion? Each reader told other readers, and on and on we go, the gift that keeps on giving.
Have some sort of contest where you give away your novel. If you don’t have a novel, have a contest where you give away a free writing that is exclusive for the winner of the contest. You may be giving away a bit of your craft but you are gaining a great amount of goodwill.
Learn from the Competition
I am continually going back and reading the works of writers who I admire. There are millions of works out there better than anything I have ever written, and I want to study those works and find out where I am lacking in mine.
Similarly, I want to know how other people are marketing their writing. I want to see what techniques they have used to attract the buying public. There are very few new ideas in the business world, and I have no problem borrowing ideas from others and using them for myself. I would expect others to borrow from me and really, isn’t that a high form of praise when they do?
I told my students for years that they need to ask questions and now I’m telling you the same thing. If you do not understand something then find someone you respect and ask them. I have found other writers to be very helpful people, always willing to help me when I had a question, and I guarantee that I am the same way. Writers who know me know that I will always take the time to answer their questions or give advice if it is asked for. I believe in karma, and by helping others I believe I will eventually be helped as well.
Ask questions and then be ready and willing to answer questions asked of you.
Be a Trailblazer
This may be a shock to some of you but there are some writers who will copy the style and voice of their peers. There are some writers who will literally plagiarize and copy the work of others. There are some who show all the individuality and creativity of a kid in high school copying homework from another student.
Be yourself and find your own way. Yes you can ask for help and yes you should learn from others who have been successful, but when the learning is done and you are about to head out on your own, head out as you and not someone else.
On a related note, be a trailblazer and not one who follows established trails. Who was more famous, the first guy to cross the Oregon Trail or the ten-thousandth? There was only one Shakespeare. There was only one Hemingway. There is only one you! Be the one others want to follow.
INTERACT WITH OTHERS
I cannot overemphasize this one enough. Writing is a personal expression shared with human beings. You must interact with other writers and with your targeted audience. If that means a blog used to support your writing then so be it. If that means a Facebook or Twitter account to support your writing then so be it. If that means having readings at the public library or standing on a street corner reading aloud from a soapbox, then so be it.
If you do not find a way to break from your self-imposed exile then how do you expect others to relate to you and eventually read your work?
I belong to a writing site called HubPages, and I have been asked how I have accumulated so many followers and comments. It’s really very simple. I spend a great amount of time interacting with my fellow writers on that site. I read their work and comment, and they do the same for me. We build relationships based on mutual respect, and those relationships are invaluable as we move forward in our careers.
Are you a script writer?
Never Give up on a Piece
Every single piece that you write has the potential to be a best-selling piece. Every single piece that you write has the potential to be a career-changer. Never give up on something that you have written.
Maybe you wrote something a year ago and it has languished in writing purgatory. Pull it out and add to it, or change the introduction, or whatever it takes to make it more attractive to the reader. I have known writers who simply changed a couple words on the title of an article and suddenly it was read by thousands.
Re-write…..revise….re-word….never give up on a piece.
Everything you write is an asset. Would you throw away money? Would you toss out stock certificates? Your writing is valuable too, so don’t give up on it.
LEARN FROM DEFEAT
I self-published my first novel two years ago. I am now in the process of re-writing my first chapter to that novel. Why? Well, after hundreds of rejection letters from agents and publishers, I have decided it is time to put a new face on that novel. Obviously there is something about it that has not grabbed the attention of those who could promote my book, so I’m learning from those rejections and doing something about it.
We need to take lessons from our defeats. Oftentimes, it is hard for us to look at our own work objectively, so then we need to ask others what we should do to change our work. This calls for a thick skin because let’s face it, our writing is important to us and we love what we have produced. It took time to write, and we invested ourselves emotionally in that writing. We just might need a fresh pair of eyes to gain a valid and objective opinion about it.
If we are to improve in our craft we must be willing to learn from our victories and our defeats. What can you do to improve your writing?
Words of Advice
Find a Balance
I have often heard other writers talk about writer’s block, and I have read suggestions detailing how to avoid or defeat that block. Honestly, I have never experienced it, but I have had times when I felt my writing was stale and unimaginative. It was during those times that I have walked away from writing and spent time doing something else. It may be as simple as going for a walk or enjoying a picnic, but it is vitally important for writers to find a balance in their lives.
I am still learning how to do this. I recently declared to myself and the world that I will no longer be writing on weekends. I spend ten hours per day, five days per week, writing, and that is more than enough. I need to experience life without writing. By doing so I believe I will become a better writer, and I believe you will too.
BUILD A NETWORK
Networking has long been an accepted practice in business. It will pay huge dividends in writing as well.
I keep a file of every agent and publisher who has rejected me, and I keep their rejection notes in that file. I use it for reference and occasionally I will contact them to tell them I am working on something new.
My network extends to the hundreds of other writers who I know through HubPages, and it extends to friends and acquaintances I have made during my lifetime. We never know where our big break will come from, and the larger our network the better for us. If you are treating your writing as a business then you need to expand your business, and networking is an important tool in doing so.
How Can I Help You?
There you have ten suggestions that just might help you as you go forth in your writing career. Now I will add a personal note to all of you. How can I help you? What can I do to give you a little boost in your writing career? Can I answer a question for you? Can I preview one of your articles and give you suggestions? Can I write a review for you? I am willing to do those things for you; all you have to do is ask.
Why am I offering my help? You should know the answer to that question already. What goes around comes around, and eventually I may need your help. I do not consider any of you who read this as competition. Instead, I consider you my peers and friends, and I believe we can all succeed if we are willing to share with each other and lend a helping hand.
So I ask you again: how can I help you?
2013 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)