The Professional Writer’s Life: Some Observations…
You are a professional writer. A thinker, a wordsmith , a poet, and a preacher. Are the “keywords” of your life blocked, bottle, and broke, the romantic clichés that sound “interesting” but don’t offer much in reality? Or are they empowering mantras like inspired, in demand, and in the money? Juggling the highs and lows that come with being a writer is just as crucial to your survival, success, and peace of mind as the number of pages or paragraphs you turn out each day.
There are two rules that I live by as a working writer navigating both the creative and practical byways of the literary life. The first is the fact that success isn’t always determined by how much money you have in the bank, and the second is to never underestimate the importance of craft. I’m sure many of us dream of that megabuck book sale, lucrative screenplay deal, or handsome copywriting contract. Some of us may have already hit fortuitous paydays, while others keep pounding out material with the understanding that monetary pay dirt is usually in direct proportion to the amount of blood, sweat and tears we invest in ourselves and in our work.
For me, success for a writer is determined by the degree of discipline, productivity, and growth one displays and exhibits with their literary output just as much as the size of their bank account. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t aim for financial success. But unless you’d be satisfied as the “author” of a hack television reality show, or some other lucrative form of lowbrow penmanship defined as “writing” in today’s culture, you should always put commitment to craft tantamount in your evolution as a successful writer. With proper marketing of your talent, and a little luck, the monetary rewards will more than likely take care of themselves, and you’ll have the added satisfaction that comes with knowing you’re doing good work.
As far as those bywords “blocked,” “broke,” and “bottle,” it is true that many a writer has known one or more of them upfront and firsthand. Even I have found myself in a cheap hotel room, staring at a blank screen, with my only companion a scotch and soda. Writing is work, and word flow can ebb and flow just like the tide. It is also often a solitary discipline, peppered with empty pockets if you are working on spec, and a lonely exercise that can be buffered by a stiff drink doubling as a brother in arms.
With all of this said, however, don’t let these aspects of the writing experience rule your world, or cramp your space. Understand the highs and lows of this craft you’ve chosen, be true to yourself, and find your voice. Before you know it, you could be working in a beautiful home office, with an adoring spouse or partner, kids, pets, and a mortgage! It’s well within your power to achieve and maintain balance, fulfillment, and prosperity in your writer’s life!
Michael V is a freelance writer available on WriterAccess, a marketplace where clients and expert writers connect for assignments.