Becoming a Writer – Overcoming Naysayers

writerIf you have a family and friends who love and support your quest to become a writer, that is a rare gift and you should treasure us. However, if you’re like many of us, you probably got some looks and whispered comments about “she’s finally gone off the deep end” or “here she goes again.”

The Twists and Turns of the Path to Writing

Like most writers, I took many twists and turns on the path to become a writer. It never occurred to me that I could make money at my writing. Writing was just something I always did. I kept journals, wrote short stories, shared fantastical tales with my friends, cried when we played make believe because my version of our play acting was always telenovela worthy.

I can still remember being with two of my friends when we were about 11 or so. We were playing house in the little back of the pickup truck trailer we had at the time. Great fun. We had a nice little story line going when I burst into tears and began screaming about how my boyfriend had been murdered and neither of them would ever understand how that felt.

My friends stared at me for a few quiet minutes, blinking with that dazed look so many people have given me over the years. One of them said, “Geez, Lori. You should just be an actress.”

Actually, no, I should just be a writer, because writers and creative people do always have to get into the story and take things to that level.

If there is a broken light over the lamp post on my street, it had to be broken by a serial killer or a vampire who is stalking me, right?

If I haven’t heard from my husband at the appointed hour, there is a horrendous attack on his work place and he is cowering in terror somewhere.

If my keys aren’t where I put them, there is an entity in the house moving them around.

If the normal person could live inside my mind and see where it goes sometimes, they would be truly frightened for my sanity.

I suspect if you are reading this, you have similar experiences in your daily life and you already know you’re a writer. However, you may have family members telling you that you shouldn’t try to be a writer.

It’s too risky, they say. There is no stability. It is hard to make it in the writing world.

They’re Right, But They’re Wrong

It’s too risky. There is no stability. It is hard to make it in the writing world.

The thing is that they are right. It is risky to be a writer. You may never sell a thing you write. You may be broke. There isn’t much stability. Even if you start making a living, your income will be sporadic at best. There will be times of feast and times of famine. It’s hard to make it. There is a lot of competition.

Yet, if you have that little voice that whispers to you that you simply must write anyway, none of that will matter.

If you told them you were going to get a nice sensible business degree and a job at the local hotel chain with good benefits, they would support your choice, so why not this one? Why not the choice that is the air you breathe? The choice that makes you who you are in all your glorious overreactions to everyday events and your slight insanity?

I’m sorry, but while they are right in what they are saying, they are wrong because they should support you.

YOU Must Make the Decision and Change

Unfortunately, arguing with people who are “reasonable” will not change their minds. Your reason is not theirs. Instead, you must respectfully insist on your own choices.

  • Tell them you appreciate their concern, but are moving forward with your plans.
  • Set a specific time to work and refuse to be interrupted. If you are writing for an hour every day after work, tell them and then refuse to answer the door or phone during that time.
  • Change the topic if they continue to try to push their views on you.

Know that while they may truly be concerned and have your best interest at heart, this is your life and you must make the final decision on what you spend your time on.

Find Support Elsewhere

No one understands a writer like a writer or fellow creative type. Join a critique group, a local organization of writers, or an online group and gain your strength from them. As someone who faced this type of “concern” over the years, I have to tell you that you simply have to make up your mind and ignore all the naysayers. They truly do mean well (most of them anyway), but they don’t understand that clawing desire to put your stories down for others to read.

 

“Do What You Love,” They Said

do what you loveYou’ve probably heard the age-old advice. Do what you love and the money will come to you. This is a saying that has been around for a long time.

Adults often advice kids going into college to do what they love.

While it is true that life is short and that you don’t want a job you hate, it isn’t always true that the money comes pouring in because you’re doing what you love.

Do What You Love, But Have a Backup Plan

I am so thankful for my dad and his wise advice over the years. He always told me to have a backup plan. When I told him I wanted to get a teaching degree, he asked what my backup plan was. Essentially, what would I do if I couldn’t find a teaching job. As a matter of fact, the year I graduated with the hardest degree to find a teaching job in (secondary English), there were few jobs to be had.

Today, I live in a community that has a school of education right up the road and tends to hire people they know (you know, the art teacher’s niece who grew up in this town but maybe didn’t even major in English in school). That means that unless I want to either sub until I’m 80 (I don’t), or take a job in the inner city (too far to drive), then I am not getting a teaching job ever. Not unless I want to move away.

So, his backup plan advice was actually excellent and caused me to develop some skills with computers and office skills that I might not otherwise have developed.

Make Time for What You Love

Instead of advising you, dear readers, to do what you love, I am going to advise you to make time for what you love. More than likely, you are not going to make much money when you first start writing. It takes a long time to build up a livable income and even then it can be sporadic. You may be forced to work a 9 to 5 job.

However, don’t give up on what you love. Nearly anyone can carve out 15 minutes a day. Take that 15 minutes and work on a book. In a year, you’ll a novel completed if you write just one page a day.

Never quit. Never give up. That is the true key to success and to one day doing what you love and making a living at it.

Persistence Pays: Getting Published as a New Writer

writingThis is a reprint of an article that appeared on my Lori Soard website years ago. However, the advice in it is still pertinent to those just getting started in writing. I think you’ll find it helpful. I’ve updated it in places.

For example, the beautiful and talented Nancy Akers offered some thoughts for this article. I don’t want to take out her input, because it was brilliant, but I edited to reflect that she is no longer with us.

Hope you enjoy “Persistence Pays”.

So, you want to be a writer? You want the glamour of seeing your name in print, your brainchild worshiped by the masses, your vision shining brightly from the shelf in your local bookstore? So… How does persistence pay?

Nancy Akers, late published author of of fifteen historicals, constantly submitted proposals for a period of two years before selling her sixth novel. She says she was playing the numbers game, knowing that eventually an editor would like something she wrote.

Persistence equals success?

So, how does one become a successful writer? Maggie Davis submitted her first novel for over a year, before McGraw-Hill bought it. Since that time, Maggie has published dozens of novels and had one turned into a made-for-television movie.

“If it is to be, it’s up to me”

This is Joan Overfield’s favorite quote. She says she heard Sandra Brown say it at a conference and it stuck with her.

But, for the new writer, it’s hard to see any tangible proof of the hard work – no sales and no paycheck. Those with a deep seated need to write have little choice, though. They simply must write.

Some might hide their manuscripts in the closet, write after everyone’s in bed and make up stories in their heads. However, they never truly give up the dream of writing and having that writing get the appreciation it deserves. The only way to achieve a dream is by focusing on it.

How does one focus and persist after rejections?

At some point, every author will go through a time when she simply wants to throw down her pen and recapture her life. Can she turn her back on writing when her blood boils to achieve success? This burning desire to simply write, this fierce need is what eventually leads one to success.

For some, the bell of success seems to toll instantly upon submitting, while others endure years of rejections. Fern Michaels’ first submission was published. Success, however, is never an easy road and every writer has obstacles to overcome. With nearly 50 best-selling novels, even Fern’s road was not smooth.

“My husband. He had no faith in me at all. I was too dumb at the time not to be self-confident,” she said.

Other big name authors stuck with it and overcame their own obstacles.

“[There was a] lack of support from those I cared about and disbelief on their part that I would attempt such a ‘crazy’ prospect.” – Stella Cameron

“It never occurred to me that I wouldn’t have time to write, even with five kids, including a baby. I quickly learned to do what was absolutely necessary, and how to say ‘no’ to what wasn’t.” – Karen Templeton

Persistence Isn’t a One-Time Endeavor

Persistence doesn’t end after publication. Writers like Nora Roberts, with over one hundred published novels, can tell you that persistence is not only the key to getting published but to staying published. What were her road blocks? Nora confides, “All of the above! When Silhouette opened up in 1980, looking specifically for new American writers, it was my small miracle.”

Those with a passion for the written word have little choice but to follow where it leads them. Like a siren’s song, this fierce need to share the stories invading their thoughts is an addiction. But, the road to success is long and hard for most. If your abilities are well honed, persistence will pay in the end.

And, the checks will be made out to you!