For every writer there comes a time to decide: do I share my work with the world, or do I keep it to myself? Is it good enough for others to read, or will I be mocked out for being a talentless hack?
Then, for some writers the question is: Can I quit my day job once I’m published? How much time should I devote to a career, such as writing, where the odds are high I won’t make enough money off of it to make it worthwhile?
The sad truth is it’s hard to make a living from creating art. Partly because it’s so subjective, but also because it takes years of practice, and a lot of people are looking for a get-rich-quick scheme.
Perhaps because writing seems easy, or perhaps because the media showcases so many success stories, but there has been an increase in the number of people interested in dipping their toes into Lake Authorhood. Check out how many people are self-publishing their (many times poorly written) books. Note how few own mansions. Let’s put it this way. If you haven’t studied the art of writing, you won’t find a devoted audience willing to shell out enough money for you to spend your days sipping coffee at the computer with your new friend The Muse.
The good news is that there are a LOT of books that will guide you to becoming a stronger writer. So many that you will be broke before you make any money. But it will be worth it because you will have guidelines to follow. Plot is not just a parcel of land. It is the cornerstone of your novel. It’s the foundation on which you will place your characters. And you will hurt your characters. Badly. But they will persevere. Maybe even better than you after you’ve banged your forehead on the keyboard one too many times.
If you want fame and fortune, you will work for it. Hard. You’ll fail before you succeed. Many, many times. You’ll want to stop, but you won’t because you’ve already put so much time into it, and you can feel you’re getting stronger. Kinda like when you lift weights. You start small, but build up to lifting twenty pounds. Start out with twenty, you’ll be sore for a week. Okay, so if you start off writing a novel without knowing what you’re doing, you might not be physically sore, but you might become frustrated or overwhelmed and give up. So there.
Me? I totally expect to be famous someday. And maybe even have amassed a small fortune (a mansion would be nice, but, nah, I get lost easy). But I also expect to put in the time. And I have. And I will continue to do so. And if that’s what you want, so should you.
P.S.: I would write, though, even if I never, ever, ever became published because I love it. I draw, play guitar (badly) and run because I love it, too. I don’t expect to gain fame and fortune from any of those “talents,” however. Relieved?