Growing a Writing Career

Beginning a writing career is like planting a garden. It takes time and patience. Depending on the crop, the harvest can be from a few weeks to months away.


When planting a garden, you first have to pick out a spot with the right conditions for optimum growth.
  • Do you have a spot for writing? A desk, calendar, file cabinet, computer, and anything else you need to grow as a writer? Having a place that feels professional really makes a difference. You can write anywhere, but in order to get yourself thinking in terms of making money, a corner in the house with all the proper tools will give you a place for your writing business.
Next, preparation - working up the soil and amending if necessary. 
  • What do you want to write? You may have many ideas. Choose one you know the most about. If you are a mother, you may have great ideas to submit to a parenting magazine. If you have fond childhood memories spending summers in Maine with your grandfather and his lobster business, you may want to write a children's book. Dig deeply and think about what's in your heart. It won't limit your ideas, but it will give you a place to start.
Time to plant! The seeds or plants have to be selected.
  • Do you have goals? You have to know what you want to plant in your garden. Once you choose what you want to write, make a goal by the end of this year so you will have a harvest. If you want to write for magazines, perhaps your goal is to have 3 articles written and submitted. If you want to write a children's book, perhaps your goal is to have a rough draft completed. 
Watering, weeding, and fertilizing.
  • Do you have a writing schedule in place? A garden will flourish with proper care. If you don't select the days and times you will write, chances are your writing will be sporadic (watering) and your business won't grow. If it doesn't get done, you won't make money. There is a tendency to over schedule. You will know if you do. Just eliminate (weed) the days or  hours out of your schedule that are stifling your success. It's better to schedule 3 hours a week and stick with it than to schedule 6 hours and miss the mark.  
Your schedule will include weekly objectives (fertilize) to meet your goal:
  1.  Network with other writers and authors. Here you will find support, suggestions, and  guidance to help you know what books to read or classes to take for your style or genre.
  2.  Research your topic. If you're writing historical fiction, you have to be accurate about the  history. If you're writing an article for a magazine, you have to become familiar with the magazine and  writer's guidelines.
  3.  Build your platform. This is included with networking with other writers, but it also includes  having a blog or website. Who you are and what you write about will be reflected in your site.
  4.  Write. This is the actual writing you will do on your project. Are you a morning person or night  owl? What time or day works for you? 
  5.  Prioritize. You are starting a business. You have to take it seriously and your family and friends  have to take it seriously. Unless it's an emergency, treat your schedule as if you were going to a job  outside your home. Would you be able to leave work to help someone? Make it a priority to decide  when and if you will forgo your work schedule. 
  6.  Submit and Query. I know many beginning writers who have not taken the next step of submitting  or querying their work. What good is a garden if you don't pick the produce? Fear of rejection, lack  of confidence, or low self-esteem are all possible reasons. You have to take some risks to be  successful.  It's like  pruning. When you snip a plant in the right places, the promise is better growth.
  7. Patience. If you've planted a garden, you know it requires patience. The harvest is weeks or months away. I am just picking ripe tomatoes that I planted in May. I have a hydrangea that I've babied along for 3 years and just saw some buds. But then there are the radishes and  green beans that seemed to grow overnight. 
When I became serious about freelance writing, I had so many ideas I didn't know where to begin. I have 2-3 book ideas, but I also knew I wanted to make money as a writer in the very near future. Do I write resumes? Do I write for local publications? Do I take a course and get some credentials under my belt? I had to start organizing my thoughts since I was overwhelmed with information. Then it hit me - writing short pieces was a better fit for me than a book. So the book ideas are currently set aside for now, and I am regularly working on submitting to magazines. The book ideas will eventually be scheduled in. 

Where are you in your writing career? If you're just beginning, you may have lots of ideas to write about. But if you don't plant those ideas and keep to a regular schedule each week, you won't have a successful harvest.

Go for it! You have something to offer the world.



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Kathy Moulton is a published freelance writer. You can find her passion to bring encouragement and hope to people of all ages at When It Hurts -http://kathleenmoulton.com


11 comments:

  1. Nice extended metaphor, Kathleen and a simple set of starter steps for anyone who hankers after a writing career.

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  2. Kathleen, what a useful list of writing tips and steps. We writers do need to remember this is a business. And, all writers need to have an optimized website in place also. Love the metaphor!

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  3. Great post, Kathleen. Each point mentioned here is right on the button and great advice for a novice, even for those who have been writing for a while. Thanks for these guidelines.

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  4. I need to work on that schedule . . . lol

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  5. Thanks, ladies! I'm glad you were helped, encouraged, or reminded.

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  6. Great analogy. I believe goals and calendars are key.

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  7. Yes, I agree. Great analogy. Wonderful post.

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  8. Thanks for a good analogy Kathleen. Hmm, where am I? Hmm. Working on sample chapters for my 4th WIP. I can't settle on a follow-up to my first published book, Strength Renewed.

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