Advice to a Writer
by Hudson Owen
Generally, I don’t give advice. I’ve found that people don’t take advice until they are ready to listen. If you approached me and asked about writing and the writer’s life, I might ask you a few questions, such as: Why do you think you are a writer? What kind of writer are you? Who is your audience?
If you are young and full of confidence, you might already know the answers to those questions. You feel you have a voice. You feel that voice rising up inside you, nearly choking you at times. You might have some idea of your audience. Maybe you see yourself as a mystery writer, or science fiction, or romance, or a literary writer.
If you were intending to write for the stage, I would suggest that you join a theater group and become involved in the life and business of the theater. If you told me you were a dedicated screenwriter willing to sacrifice an arm and a leg to get your scripts turned into films, I’d recommend that you move to Hollywood. For while it is possible to pitch and sell your scripts online, Hollywood is where you get the opportunity to meet industry professionals face-to-face.
If you came to me for advice on being a writer today, I might ask how patient you are and how fast you can type. If you are the patient type, I’d say, give traditional methods a shot first. When you have finished your novel—proofed it and set it aside for a while to cool off—you would send out queries to agents and editors, fully prepared to wait weeks, months, to hear a reply; and wait further to strike a deal, receive your advance, and tack a year or two onto that before your novel was published. That’s assuming you are one of the lucky few chosen by an editor or agent to join their list.
If you are impatient and you can type like the blazes, I’d say give self-publishing a shot and bang out a line of e-books in a popular genre, and make the first book perma free so as to hook the reader and build a following. E-books don’t seem to have the staying power of print volumes, so be prepared to write, produce and promote lots of them.
Talent is useful for a writer to possess. Talent will determine to what extend your words will be worth reading a year from now, a hundred years from now. But talent will not necessarily hand you fame and riches. Having contacts in the publishing business has helped the career of many a writer, so network; send emails with a personal touch.
The other factor is luck; call it fortune, karma. Luck can put you in the right place at the right time. If you have the right sensibility for the times you live in, thank your lucky stars.
The world is already crowded with writers and books. There are more than two million e-books on Amazon.com today. Add to that the millions of hard and paper backs for sale. Don’t let the odds deter you. Just know what you are in for when you take that badge “writer” out into the world. Expect to struggle. And maybe, just maybe, you might win.
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Genre – Essay
Rating – G