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Beyond the Writing - The Life of an Author

Beyond the Writing - The Life of an Author

Beyond the Writing - The Life of an Author

Posted: 25 Oct 2010 03:32 PM PDT

When we talk about being an author, getting published, and finding that perfect agent we often focus completely on one thing - writing. We become obsessed with the written word and the skills it takes to merge all those words into one coherent story. We spend hours, days, weeks and months honing our skills to pound out every ripple until our stories are smooth and shiny. Are we missing something? Are we overlooking something?

In strict regard to writing and the art of writing, no, we're not missing anything. I would say we are right on target with our efforts and drive. If we look at the life we assume once we transform to an author than I say we have missed a great deal. Many of these aspects we may know and see coming down the road but decide to push them to the side until a later date. This can be a critical mistake as circumstances could present multiple situations to us at one time. Outside of writing what is the next biggest aspect of an author's life we should keep an eye on? Our writing routine, our daily routine, meetings with our agent and possibly those who distribute our book are all possibilities but I think one rises to the top. Actually, it is no different than right now as we are still on the quest of publication.

No matter what you do or where you go we all need to survive; in order to do that we need money. I know, right now many of us have jobs that pay the bills, keeps food on the table and maybe a little extra to pay for that writing class but what if they were gone? What if you woke up one morning and said "I'm a writer, I'm focusing on nothing else but writing and getting my books published"? How would you survive? This is a very important question because authors are just that. In my talks with published authors there is one thing I have learned but yet to figure out. If you look at the time it takes to write a book, get it published and promote it there is little time remaining for anything else much less a full time job. Promoting your book alone is a full time job. The other issue to remember is that many authors are not getting advances for their published work and the majority is receiving very little for the cost of promoting their book. How do they do it and still survive?

Before we get too much further we also need to understand that self publishing a book is not the answer. If you have investigated that route any at all you know firsthand how expensive that can be. The question then becomes - how does one become a full time author and survive?

First, we need to make sure our finances are in order. Yes, this would mean that we need to get our credit cards paid off and we need to eliminate as much debt as possible. I know for a fact that we have heard this at least a few thousand times but it is the truth. The less debt we carry the more freedom we have and the less stress we hold on to. Which I believe would also eliminate a distraction from our writing. Unfortunately getting rid of our debt is not the end of this story because being debt free with no money coming in still equals no food and bills not being paid. No electricity pretty much means the writing comes to a halt for the majority of us.

What are we to do then? Our debt is paid down but we need money to survive. This is where planning steps in. Just like outlining our next story, we need to plan our transformation from full time working to full time author. One other ingredient is needed for this to work and that is patience. Oh how I can hear the sucking in of air now; no one likes that word but you know - Rome wasn't built in a day. It will take patience to finish that story and even more to find a publisher and/or agent; it will take patience to get our life as an author off the ground.

Building up our savings is a logical idea but it is not very easy to do in this age when everything around us is getting more expensive and people are still unemployed. A quick word to those who are drawing unemployment; this is a really good time to start the transformation. You have the time to write and find an agent while possibly trimming down debt and/or saving a little. I know it is a bad situation to be in but there is a silver lining. The great thing is this, if we pay down debt than that is less money going out the door and more money that can be saved. This is the perfect example of the snowball effect.

Where are we? Oh yes, we have paid down our debt as best we can and now we have a little to put away in a savings account. How much do we save? I really can't answer this question. It depends on your lifestyle, spending habits and how long you want to go before you absolutely need money coming into the door. This scenario may work better for us if we make the adjustment to a part time job from a full time job. We gain more time to write and prepare while still maintaining a stable paycheck.

Yes, the time may come where you are eating hot-dogs and Ramen noodles for breakfast, lunch and dinner but this is the sacrifice we make in order to achieve our goal of becoming a published author. It is more than just writing a book; it's a lifestyle and a commitment.

If our goal is to be a published author we must not only think of our writing but also the means in which to carry on with our life as a published author. The work doesn't stop with the book be published that is just beginning. We must be prepared to adjust our life to achieve what we are working for. There is hope however because many before us have done it and many after us will too. We can be one of them.

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