At some point, the average writer will make a decision: to continue writing for pleasure and occasional payment or to make it a career. Either is fine. Some of you may not want the stress of producing words to keep your finances in the green. It’s no easier than clocking into a shop or office every day. And certainly not as stable.
For others, though, you may come to the understanding that writing is your greatest skill and should be your primary source of income. If you listen to the statistics, only one or two people in history have ever managed to become professional writers. I’ve even had an instructor at an adult education class tell us that you can’t make a living from writing. I probably should have demanded a refund.
Regardless, it is a difficult path. But so is medicine, engineering, business, or any skilled trade. They all require training and hard work to become proficient and confident. Writing is no different.
I still have my collection of textbooks from college, where I earned my engineering degree. Sometimes I’ll flip open a calculus or physics book and wonder how I ever pulled it off. Four years of pounding facts and theory into my head and, somehow, I survived. And then I wonder why writing should be a bigger challenge. The only factor that is unique to writing or any other art form is a minimal requirement of talent. If you’re reading this, chances are you have that.
After that, it’s learning, trying, learning some more. In any profession, you can never stop learning. Writing is no different. What is essential to your success is persistence. You don’t fail until you quit trying.
Before I leave you that thought, let me add that most of us are changing from another career. Some of you may be in your twenties. Some, like me, closer to fifty than we care to admit. It doesn’t matter. If you love what you’re doing, there’s no such thing as retirement. I plan on doing this until I breathe my last. I don’t smoke or live in the city, so I expect that to be a long way off.
Next week I’d like to talk about your plan (and mine). How will we get from part-time to full-time novelists. See you then.