Many thanks to Lucinda E. Clarke for the below guest post.
SO YOU WANT TO BE A WRITER?
Asked that question when I was five and my answer was ‘Yes’ – asked again at school leaving and the answer was still ‘Yes.’ But you know how it is, life gets in the way and I took the ‘family approved’ route and became a teacher. Five countries and almost two decades later, I fell into writing almost by accident and was commissioned by the South African Broadcasting Corporation to write for radio. This led to scripting for television, then major corporate companies, government departments, and all points in between. From 1985 until 2008 I earned my living by writing, producing and directing videos and broadcast programmes.
I was a writer for hire. On Monday I would be scribbling for an international food company extolling the great nutritional value of their potato crisps and on Friday writing for the Heart Foundation persuading people never, ever to eat potatoes because they were so bad for your health.
In my time I wrote mayoral speeches, brochures, leaflets, adverts for radio, TV and print. I had a newspaper column, wrote articles for magazines and had a couple of educational books traditionally published.
What advice would I give to anyone thinking of writing for a living?
Firstly, unless you write the next major hit, and have the amazing one in several million chance of getting it traditionally published and turned into a Hollywood drop dead blockbuster, it’s unlikely you will be able to sustain a family and a mortgage by self publishing your books. It may happen, but don’t hold your breath, however good your book is. So, if your major love is writing, think outside the box and write for money. Annual company reports are not thrilling, but they will put food on the table. At the same time, you are honing your skills and learning the nuts and bolts of the trade.
Secondly, when you finally find the courage to publish your baby, and by then it will be more precious than any other member of the family, you may expect to sit back and wait for the accolades to roll in right? Wrong!
To paraphrase some famous writer – ‘If you put your head above the parapet, you must expect to be shot down.’
You have written the most brilliant masterpiece that Shakespeare would envy, but not everyone will like it, enjoy it or understand it. You will get criticism, warranted or otherwise. The first time this happens it’s devastating, the second, it hurts a little less, the third time you begin to shrug it off and giggle at the bad spelling and grammar your less than thrilled reviewer has posted for all the world to see. Grab a glass of wine or a huge mug of coffee and read the one star comments on books you’ve loved, it’s the best remedy I know.
Now, I thought after supporting two children, a husband and a St Bernard among other furry household members by writing for almost thirty years, that I could, in fact, write. Wrong again.
When I retired, I couldn’t stop writing, it gets in your blood, it’s a disease. So I tried my hand at writing books and it was like starting all over again at the bottom, and even after seven books I’m still learning.
If you want to find out how I ‘fell’ into writing and how my career morphed from the classroom to the television studios you can check out my books:
Truth, Lies and Propaganda http://goo.gl/Ws7b4w
More truth, Lies and Propaganda http://goo.gl/z9iLFa
These links take you to Amazon but both books are available on all channels as eBooks and in paperback.
If you are a born writer, then you won’t be able to stop writing, so don’t fight it.
Go and write the next bestseller!