Congratulations, you’ve embarked upon the first step of a long journey into the world of writing. You have ideas that you want to share with others, ideas that sound good in your head and you can’t wait to see what happens when you put words to paper (or screen).
Well, my friends, the first piece of advice that I have to impart on you, as you roll head first down the hill into the great writing career at the end, is probably the most important piece of advice I have ever been given about writing; more important than how to form a sentence or how to query an agent. No, the most important piece of advice that I can give is this:
That’s right, quit. If becoming a writer, or successful author, or even a screenwriter, the best thing you can do is quit. Go ahead, try it. If you can quit writing without an unbearable need to write down an idea or a character, then you’re in the wrong career. I don’t mean just stop writing for a day or two, no, I mean put down the pen or the laptop and never write another word, another world, or another plot ever again.
If even a day away from putting down words gets you all worked into a frenzy, salivating over that next fix that is writing, then this is truly what you were meant to do. If you can walk away from your work and not feel a desire to get back to work, to write another book, then do it. Real writers, those of us with stories in their blood, can’t walk away for very long.
We start to get the cravings, like a junkie looking for his next hit. Words are our drug and the keyboard is the syringe. Writing takes commitment. Writing takes sacrifice. You certainly aren’t going to get rich overnight, if at all. Truth is, the vast majority of writers that I know that are having any kind of success, are still working a real job during the day or are doing well enough to write full time but not necessarily eat out every night. You can make a living writing, if you put in the work.
What does that mean, “Put in the work?” Think of your writing as you would a painter, a sculptor, or even a chef. They all have to put in time and effort to get better. They practice, they learn, and they practice some more. You can’t become a great artist or master chef without making some crappy stuff first. Writing is the same way. You get back what you put into it.