For those who write, whose goal it is to be an author of any sort, and who believe it is their calling, I believe they will never give up on making it their career. There will be no point to because they will never stop writing regardless of outcome; it is simply what they do.
While the writing part—whether it be essay, poetry, article, or fiction—often comes easy and is joyful to a writer, the other part—getting written work noticed—doesn’t always come easy, and isn’t always joyful to a writer, such as myself. The following are four values that I have come to learn are necessary for any writer to succeed in getting published and establishing a writing career.
First, one must have passion. A writer must naturally have an interest—a joy in writing and want to do write whether or not they become published, receive recognition, or earn income from it. Passion will prevent or eliminate any discouragement that tries to set in when goals are not reached or hopes fall through. Passion is the driving force that picks writers up and encourages them to reestablish goals, ultimately pushing them to try again.
Second, a writer must have patience. Patience will allow writers to cultivate works that can stand on their own for years to come, much like a garden. If a writer lacks patience, most, if not all actions and decisions will be impulsive and poorly made, thus likely leading to failure. Patience makes a significant difference in areas such as self-publishing, which requires creating a clean and polished body of written work. It also means developing a solid and strong marketing strategy, including established professional connections, and a significant and active audience. Establishing those things alone take time—even obtaining the right resources and finances to create a professional body of work. Although some writers have found publishing success with a small audience or few resources, if you look deeper into their stories, they still exercised patience to market their work well.
Third, one must not fear what lies ahead, or fear the unknown. Writers can’t be afraid to share their work with the world, including making financial sacrifices, especially in the area of self-publishing where writers benefit by creating something that looks professional and stands out. Writers also shouldn’t be afraid to invest in travelling to events, such as writing conferences. Of course, writers should take well-thought-out and purposeful actions. If one feels in their mind, and even heart, that they must do something in order to reach their goals, fear of letting go, fear of what others think, or fear of the unknown, should not get in the way.
Fourth, writers should develop humbleness. Learning to accept and hear feedback is not always easy, especially when negative. However, that skill is essential to developing fearlessness. Being humble means being able to accept criticism or negative responses of your work without being defensive or giving up. Some criticism is good because it can bring to light aspects of writing that may not be connecting with others. Humble writers are able to open their mind to see things that may not have been obvious early on. Of course, all this is useful when you receive constructive criticism and not vague criticism, such as “I don’t like this.”
Another point—negative feedback is inevitable, especially as your audience grows and your work becomes more known. Some may even provide constructive criticism that you may not agree with. But at the end of the day, it’s best to take this feedback with a grain of salt and move on. You as a writer know your work best. Decide what to do with the feedback you receive. But anticipate these things, don’t take them personally, and use this feedback to build fearlessness and grow as a writer.
Building an audience and getting your work read by others takes time—it doesn’t happen overnight. I learned to never forget, to never lose the reason why I began writing in the first place—because I enjoy it. To me, writing is my outlet to set my mind free and express how I feel about others, things, and myself. It is my chance to create a world—a life that I don’t necessarily have or live, but envisioned myself to. It is a chance for me to face challenges that even as I write, I don’t know how those challenges will pan out. Your writing should be genuine—you should have fun. If you don’t have that, then nothing else will surface. Don’t see your audience as a number—a goal to obtain. See them as an important community to interact with, get to know, and learn from. Any successful audience is one that is responding to what the writer does, whether that audience is big or small.
But quite possibly, the most important thing I have come to realize is this: writing (especially creative) is more of an art form than that of a technical form, which must meet certain criteria and follow guidelines in order to be adequate enough to be presented to the audience. When writers focus more on the business side of writing, such as seeking agents and publishers, writing can lose its art and start to be tedious work, as it once became for me. There is no wrong or right way to write a story or poem, as long as it’s readable and free of grammar errors. To me, there is no such thing as an unintentional silly story or poem because you never know what readers will like. Who knows, your off-trend and unique story could start a new trend as others have done before.
Crystal Barnes is a writer and blogger on her website, Writer’s Bounty (www.writersbounty.wordpress.com). She is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers Association and a book reviewer for Bethany House Publishers. She is seeking representation for her contemporary fiction stories and lives in Saint Paul, MN.