The writing life is just that: a lifestyle. This is the second of a six part series (posted once a month over a six month period) about the writing lifestyle. The first post, “What does it mean to be a writer?” can be found here. The rest of the series will attempt to answer some common questions that every writer is asked: What does a writer do? What kind of schedule does a writer keep? How do I become a writer? How do writers make money (or do they)? And last (but not least) Where do you get your ideas?
So what does a writer do? Many years ago this was a simple question, but with changes in the publishing industry a writer is no longer an isolated god who hands down gorgeous words to the waiting masses below from his ivory tower. The days of the secluded writer hiding behind a publisher with a big marketing budget who goes out and sells his book for him are long gone. The average writer should spend only about 80% of his/her time writing and the other 20% marketing and selling their books.
A writer does write every day
This is something that was stated in the first post (What does it mean to be a writer?) and cannot be said enough. The first thing a writer must do is produce quality stories that people want to read. There is no better thing that a writer can do for his/her career than write every day and keep producing quality work.
A writer finds a way to reach and connect with readers
This is something called marketing and is not intuitive for most writers. Many find this to task to be most difficult. No longer does an agent tell you where to go to sign books or placed ads for you on various sites where your readers will find (and hopefully love) your work. Indie authors especially must do this for themselves. From advertisements to promoting your work on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media to guest blog posts (like this one) these things all take time: time away writing the next novel. Yet the writer must do both in a balanced way. A writer must study the industry and market their own work.
A writer connects with other writers and professionals in the industry
How do you guest blog on someone else’s site? You have to connect with them. How do you make your work the best it can be? Have editors, other authors, and readers look at it before it is published and give you honest feedback. How do you connect with an editor? My current editor is from St. Louis and I have never “met” her in person. We connected on an internet group (where I also found beta readers and critique group members) for people in the writing industry. This connections will prove invaluable for improving your craft.
A writer gets better
Good writers study their craft and try their best to improve their writing. Good writers listen to feedback and change things so that the next work is better than the one before. Good writers are always in school and learning something new. Your favorite writer’s last book is likely much better than his first. Writers are seeking to improve all the time.
Does it sound like a writer is really busy? Most of us are. The next post in this series will answer the question What kind of schedule does a writer keep? Meanwhile, I have to get back to work on the sequel to my latest novel. After all, I still have writing to do. Until next time—
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