What practical tasks do you need to set yourself up as a professional writer?
Off the top of my head, this question brings back to mind a recent conversation I had with another writer who is quite well published and has been gently prodding me to put my work out there for some time. I’m going to focus mostly on the outcomes of that conversation, though there are definitely other paths that can be taken.
I’m a self-confessed potato, insecure in my abilities while simultaneously knowing I can construct a sentence that reads well without even really trying. Sounds like a horrific dichotomy, doesn’t it? Welcome to my world. A world where there are countless new, original characters (muses) in my head alongside mythological ones who are equally as interesting and under-represented in stories, all of them clamouring for a voice. All of them demanding that I be that voice and tell the world (or like, three of you) their stories.
Let me set you a scene. Give you an example.
There’s a bar in my head, timber and brass fittings, fairy lights, high tables and stools, booths lining the walls, a juke box and a dance floor where my muses occasionally break into song. The dominant ones sit at the bar, the quiet ones who are sad or preoccupied are usually in a booth. For some reason Sam Winchester is always in a booth with his stupid laptop and a Wi-Fi connection that never fails and I have no idea why. He doesn’t say much. My muses are distracting, but entertaining and I wouldn’t have it any other way (and I’m sure my housemate Tiana is going to go ‘ahhhhh that explains everything’).
To set oneself up as a professional writer, a lot of the recommended steps to take are really just common sense. The idea is to get your name out there, so with that in mind, creating an online presence is quite possibly the most important thing an emerging writer could possibly do. It’s not just about Facebook, though that is certainly an option.
Twitter and Instagram are good ones to use, particularly because of the hashtags that allow writers to connect with each other with tags such as #writerslife, #writerproblems and #writingcommunity. Once those two are set up, an online blog is the next logical step, and it’s here you can really get samples of your work out there. Wix and WordPress are good places to start. I have both and the jury is out on which one I prefer. You need an active blog. After all, if you don’t, then how can you give voice to those muses in your head that are crying to be heard?
Blogging also gives you a platform to do interesting things like book reviews, cross promotion of your writing buddies’ works and even let people know if you’re going to be touring or manning a stall at Oz Comic-Con, and let’s be realistic, that would be one fun weekend. Find me in authors’ alley wearing either superhero/villain cosplay or a Pokemon onesie. There’s no in-between.
Don’t. Stop. Me nowwww.
Having a writing schedule is also considered a ‘must’. This is good if you’re doing paid writing work like freelancing or writing articles. It’s not for everyone, but strategic use of time is infinitely better than waffling around for days not knowing where to start. (Chuck knows I am hopeless at sitting down to write and actually doing the writing – mostly I make notes or just have scenes running in my head). Needless to say, I don’t use this method simply because it doesn’t work for me, but I’m trying it out. Sort of. I’m thinking about it, okay?
I’d mention YouTube blogging but I don’t have that, although my friend Emma does and she’s published too. Maybe I’ll ask her about it and write another blog post. Maybe she’ll make a vlog about me making a blog about her vlog and we’ll all get confused.
These are just a few examples, and although setting up an online blog can be a little daunting (the colour schemes!), they are worth it, and can be easily linked to your other online accounts! What’s that you say? Yes, with just one post, you can hit all of your social media followers and really get your name out there.
So… what are you waiting for? (yeah, Manna)
Those sweet potatoes won’t harvest themselves.