Which one of us hasn’t been sceptical towards the idea of making a career in writing? Granted, there is no overnight success in the field. It takes years before authors get their first ‘big break’. However, once you find recognition, there’s no looking back.
The average writer, though, has to work for an extended period of time before they come anywhere close to being successful. The important thing to remember, while trying to build your career in writing, is that it is cumulative in nature. One’s career is the sum of a lifetime of works. The fact that during this period, you’re going to have your fair share of ups and downs shouldn’t come as a surprise. While some of your books may garner positive responses, the others might not even see the light of the day. Therefore, the first step in building your career as a writer is to keep writing. Regardless of the fact whether your previous book was a hit or an absolute flop, keep working. Try to constantly improve your writing by practising more than ever.
The next step is to work on an according to that plan. Being clear about your expectations from your career is a lot better than stumbling in the dark, looking for something ambiguous and vague. When designing a plan, look for a role model, a writer who works in the same genre as you and whose success you want to achieve for yourself one day. Choose a writer you respect and look up to. Now study his career and its graph. Collect all their work and try to find out the various points in their life when they achieved success, the books that were the turning point, how they were different from the unsuccessful books and the improvement in writing. Get into the details of the success and failure of the writer. Now that you have learnt from their experience, you are in a place where you can decide how to mould your own career graph and you know what it takes and how much time it takes to achieve the high points in one’s writing life.
The next step involves writing your own goals down. Set achievable, realistic goals for yourself. You could take ideas and inspiration from the role model you chose in the previous step. More importantly, make your goals clearly defined and specific. Instead of having a goal like ‘’writing everyday’’, have a goal like ‘’writing ten pages everyday’’. Define short term as well as the long term goals, depending on your current state and position. Now arrange your goals in a logical order, putting them on a time line. This will give you a sense of having certain deadlines to meet your goals. As you go along and discover new aspects of your writing and your own self, you can revise your goals.
More than anything else, be passionate about your work while being constructively critical of it in the right doses. Do it because you love it, not because you’re writing on gunpoint. It’s a job you have chosen for yourself and you must follow it through with a generous amount of passion.
The final step is to realize that no amount of planning and forecasting is going to change the fact that you are only human and life is unpredictable. Along your way, you might make mistakes and face failures of the kind you couldn’t even imagine. None of this should bring you down. While life is going to put roadblocks on your path, you must focus on the end goal and be patient all the while. Your career, after all, is the sum of all that you do well, and wrong.