THINKING About Being an Author vs. Actually BECOMING One

The world of writing can appear elusive. When you see a great author’s work, it’s a rare sight to see the author themselves. They can exist in a somewhat hidden manner and appear to be a group of untouchables that many of us are unsure how to approach. It’s one of the many factors that can make the decision of becoming a writer seem grand, exotic, or simply unrealistic. 

I have spent the last few years considering writing from many angles and finally decided to make the great leap. It started with reaching out to a friend who’d previously worked for a large well-known publisher and spent time later in her career at another smaller publishing company. 

I’ve known her for over ten years now. Even so, it was vulnerable and scary for me to reach out to ask her for a conversation about becoming a writer and what that actually means. I expected my conversation with her to be profound. Like I’d be told the inside scoop on a secret society. I also assumed she’d be annoyed that I didn’t have a long history in English, Journalism, and/or creative writing. This conversation was to humor me, I thought.

To my naive surprise, she was thrilled to hear that I was interested in writing. In her words, ‘If you love it and you want to, why would you not pursue it?!”

The conversation felt light and easy. My key takeaway was:  

“The mystery of writing is that there’s no mystery at all.” 

As a recruiter, I’ve spent much of my adult career learning about new industries. I’ve spent countless hours reading resumes, interviewing candidates, giving constructive feedback, and helping people make life transitions. 

Becoming a writer, in whatever way you choose, is no different than all of those people I’d interviewed seeking a new job, a new start, a new adventure. Writing is an adventure. In addition to this, I learned a few practical tips that I’d like to pass on to you all.

Advice I gained from talking to someone who worked in publishing :

  1. Decide on the big stuff first:
  • Do you want to publish a book, write articles, start a blog, become a content strategist? What kind of writer do you want to be?
  • If publishing, do you want to self-publish, or go the agent route?
  • Are you going to write fiction or nonfiction?
  • What’s your target age group?

You don’t have to stick with what you start with but choose an avenue to get yourself going. 

2. Learn

  • Learn about your platform and its specific nuances.
  • Learn about and leverage your own connections that could be beneficial down the road.

Publishers, especially Christian ones, will more quickly seek after someone with a large following or who has a Christian influencer to promote their work. It’s not the only way in but the most common. Publishers often hire contract writers to support someone who does have a large following. So, if you’re in it to strictly write and not necessarily put your own individual message out there, this is a good route to go. 

Self-publishing is not as foreign as it used to be. Many people, through their own grassroots effort, can get their work out there. If their efforts produce enough noise, you could quickly get picked up by a major publisher. 

3. You are your own worst enemy. 

  • It takes the same set of skills to research, interview, and develop skills to be a writer as it is for the job you have now. Don’t get in your own way.
  • Don’t overthink how to start. Just start writing somewhere, anywhere. It doesn’t have to perfect. My friend’s company published several major authors such as Max Lucado, Billy Graham, and more. Even they have editors and many drafts of their work. Just start!
  • Don’t stop learning and adapting. Every industry goes through trends and changes. Writing is no different. Don’t let the pace and changes in this industry intimidate you. If you have something to share, share it. Those who want it or need it will find it. 

If you’ve ever gotten any job in your life, you can have a job as a writer.

So, in the world of writing, you’re all invited in.

PaToya is a guest contributor to the Spinning Pen. To follow her writing adventures check out her Instagram here.


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