Writer, Writer, or Writer

(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com, Steve’s Tumblr, and Pillowfort.  Find out more at my newsletter, and all my social media at my linktr.ee)

Serdar and I often discuss what people really want when they write. Many times we encounter people who want to be writers in the I-make-a-living at it, and/or the It’s-my-life-sense. This “writer lifestyle” is a very abstract, boiling down to “some author is famous for some series and makes a living at it.”

Such a vision doesn’t really say much. Writers have to ask what they really want and honestly, and in my experience it’s often not what they think.

A few examples – perhaps ones that will help you.

Want to make writing doing fiction? Well, you might be able to get a hit series you enjoy writing. Or you’re going to have to write your backside off, doing whatever works, targeting your marketing, and still possibly doing it wrong. If you want to write fiction, get ready to rely on luck or demographics – and probably both.

Want to just write for a living? That’s very possible. I know people who do it, but you have to think broadly. Tech writing, training manuals, marketing content, all of that is writing. You’ll need to find what works for you, and then probably still play broad. Also be ready to write some stuff that’s not world-changing or impressive, because someone has to make that powerpoint.

(Seriously, the world needs people that can just communicate, trust me, I’m not joking about the Powerpoints).

Maybe you want to make money. No offense, writing may not be the way to do it, or maybe it’s just part of your work. That’s my case, where writing is a hobby and an edge as a Project Manager, but not exactly the core thing I do. But I make more than a tech writer, and I get to talk very seriously about timelines, but maybe that’s just me who finds that cool.

Maybe you really like the connection of writing, perhaps you like having fans and readers or a writing community. Then write whatever you want as a hobby, do zines, run a writer’s group, do a newsletter on whatever, and so on. If you want community, then focus on community first – yeah a newsletter for historic preservation may not sound cool, but may be satisfying.

Maybe you like helping writers. Your future might be teacher, editor, publisher, etc. Maybe other people’s writing is what really matters, and your own is a hobby or a side thing. Sometimes it’s fun to help things happen for others. It can even pay better.

There’s no real one kind of writer to be, there are many. But you have to ask why writing matters to you and what you want out of it – and all the things associated with it.

Even me, I am asking what my next writing goals are. I enjoy writing, I’m not exactly looking to make it as a career, but I’ve also had multiple indie author stages. It’s good to ask questions about what you want.

And like me, even when you get it, keep asking.

Steven Savage