By Kenesha Collins
On my 39th birthday, it hit me. It had been 30 years since I told my family I would write a book. I was a 9-year-old sending “manuscripts” to author, Debbie Dadey. Debbie is a very well-known children’s author. Every child born in the 80’s probably read her books about the Bailey School Kids. Her mother was my 5th grade teacher. I wrote stories and sent them to Debbie by mail. She would make changes and suggestions in red ink and mail them back to me. I didn’t realize what a gift that was when I was a child. Debbie knew what she was doing. She was planting a seed by respecting me as a real writer. She took those stories of bears, cats, and dogs and made notes as if they would reach publication.
The realization set in that I let 30 long years pass by, and I still hadn’t published my first book. Those years were filled with making excuses and procrastination. That day I decided it would be unacceptable to let another year of regret go by. My schedule and life responsibilities were not an excuse, even if I have way more on my plate now. I decided to create a game plan to stay the course towards my writing goals. If you’re like me, you can’t waste any more time. If you’d like to start writing, but don’t know how to make it your reality, here are things to consider.
Define your goals
When you begin your writing career, think about what you’d like to accomplish, and what it’s going to take to get there. For example, I want to build a strong author platform as I’m writing my book. I don’t want to be completely unknown when it’s time to release my book. Also, it sounds cliché, but I want to help people. There is so much information about writing on the Internet, and it can be overwhelming. I want to become a go-to for the brand-new writing that is just starting out. I started figuring out how to get there.
In early 2018, I started a blog. It featured everything and had no real direction. It tanked quickly, but I didn’t give up. I researched how to build blogs and created another blog that focused on the topics I’m passionate about. This blog is building, and my voice is finally being heard. Perhaps, a blog is not your thing, but you’d like to engage an audience with your voice. A podcast is a great tool to reach a broad audience and showcase your personality. If you’re not camera shy, you can create a YouTube channel. Writing can also afford you the opportunity to teach courses and give public speeches. There are so many doors that can open for you, but you must develop your craft first.
Become a good writer
Your books, blogs, and articles won’t generate any attention if you haven’t developed some good writing skills. Learning the mechanics of writing is key because it can save you money on editing if you decide to publish a book. Also, magazines and companies will not respond to you if your article is poorly written. Your email will simply get lost in the Internet hemisphere. Take writing courses, watch webinars, join writing groups, get a critique partner, and read reference books. Make your writing skills so sharp an editor will have to take notice.
Identify your peak hours
Are you a night owl or an early bird? Is your brain fresher in the morning after a hot cup of coffee? Are you sharper at night when the world is sleeping, and everything is still and quiet? Identify the times you are the most creative. Unless you are an essential worker, people are adhering to the stay-at-home mandate, so you can try to write at different times of the day and night.
Make your writing schedule as natural as breathing
You don’t have to be reminded to breathe in and out every day. Writing should be just like that. Make a point to write something down every day. If you can find the time to surf social media or shop online, you can take a few minutes to write. If you’d like to become a freelance writer, research 5 industries or publications you’d like to submit to weekly. Write some relevant samples and send them to them. Become a churning machine. Research, write, and send. Eventually, work will start to come in.
Keep a calendar of your progress
Stay on track by maintaining a weekly, monthly, or yearly calendar. Writing can be isolating. There is no one monitoring you unless you have a writing partner. Reward yourself for every goal you reach. Buy yourself an outfit, a piece of jewelry, or a gadget. Due to our current challenging times, you may not afford something new which is understandable. Plan to reward yourself after you receive your first paycheck for your writing.
Create a spreadsheet of how much money you’d like to make
A writer’s main goal is to make money eventually. Relying solely on 1 source of income can be uncomfortable. Writing can provide a steady flow of passive income, so you can sustain your life should anything happen. Passive income is income that can be obtained from your books, courses, or webinars. If you become successful, you may begin to receive it on a reoccurring basis, and not have to think about it. Create a financial plan of how much money is needed to reach your savings goals.
A writing career should be taken as seriously as entering any other field. The days of the starving artist are long gone. Join the community of writers such as Tyler Perry, E.L. James, and J.K. Rowling.
Copyright © 2020 by Kenesha Collins