Friday, September 9, 2016

What kind of writer am I?

When people say they want to be writers, that can mean many things; there are many kinds of writers to be.

There's journalism, technical writing, advertising. There are educational materials and novels and poems, mysteries and biographies, memoirs and instruction books, screenplays and short stories. At some point a writer gravitates toward a genre and an audience.

Along the way, writers also discover what they expect and hope for in terms of pursuing commercial success. There are writers publishing their own work, bringing out multiple books a year, figuring out how to get their work edited and marketed and formatted. There are writers who publish poems in a local newsletter for free and find it a happy addition to their lives, but they make their living in other ways. There are writers whose chief aim is to do something new with language or form, and writers whose chief aim is to reach a large general audience.There are writers everywhere along these spectra, writers with many different goals.

My own expectations and desires have changed over the past few years. I've come to see how much writing vs. everything else (editing, marketing, selling, teaching, etc.) I want to do. I've come to learn where I want writing to fit into my life. I've come to the point where what I have and what I want are much more closely aligned. I've thought about how I want to spend my time and energy.

Sometimes I read writing advice about how writers have to do X, Y, and Z to be successful, when what the advice-giver really means is that X, Y, and Z gave him the kind of success he wanted. There is a natural variation in whether X, Y, and Z will produce the same results for every writer who wants that brand of success. But before that, a writer can ask: Is that the career I even want? Or does my ideal career look somewhat different?

4 comments:

  1. I'm not even sure I want a career again at all. I've had one. It was "successful." By that I mean I did well because I enjoyed what I did, I became financially independent and I learned so many skills that still help me. So as to the writing career? I think of it as more of a writing period in my life. And the success during this period is going to be measure much differently than in the previous one.

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    1. That sounds wonderful. "Success" can mean so many different things.

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  2. I follow a lot of authors on social media and see the XYZ stuff that they do as first-time authors or experienced authors and sometimes I see a relationship between XYZ and success and sometimes I don't.

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