Making it as a Writer: Part One

I actually wrote a post with this title last year, shortly after I landed my first digital marketing agency job as a copywriter. I had just finished a bunch of freelance writing work and was over the moon. Despite not writing much on my own projects since finishing university, it was a big step and I finally felt like I was getting somewhere on the path I had chosen – even if it was a bit behind other people or where I expected to be.

The point is, I’m glad I held off on posting this last year.

Defining success

This is tricky. Everyone will define success differently because of their own aspirations and experiences. What I might call success might be nothing to someone else or vice versa, so when I say I want to be a successful writer, I mean a few things.

Collection of Tolkien books

One of my favourite writers and a nice set of books. This is what I want – with my name on it!

I want to publish novels – that’s the goal. That’s what everything I’m doing is leading to. I have projects on the go in the forms of novels, novellas, short stories, blogs and much more. Everything is adding up and helping me improve that little bit more but I won’t stop until I get there, and not just one either. I have plenty of stories to tell and share with you.

On the other hand, I’m a copywriter now. I work in digital marketing and I want to be successful at that too. Writing copy for a range of clients in different niches and with varying needs helps me grow. You’ll need to make changes at times but that doesn’t make you a failure. Building up relationships and letting your work be seen by hundreds, thousands, or even millions of people is a great result. It’s working up to the big brands and clients, showing that I’m as good as anyone out there.

If push came to shove, I know which one I’d choose. Do you?

A couple of options

I know a bunch of writers, from university and beyond and everyone has taken a different path. It’s important to know that there is no set path – no degree is guaranteed to make you a writer and even less likely to make you a successful one (again, depending on your definition) but some can help shape you in numerous ways.

You can study, which is a great idea for people looking to sharpen their skills, learn more and meet new people. Ultimately, you’re learning your craft from someone with the experience to help you but you still need to separate yourself and establish your own style and work. Some people don’t make it over this line but the ones that do, you can be sure they are masters of the written word. I’m a graduate from an English and Creative Writing course but many friends are doing a Masters and even looking at studying further.

There’s the working option, which is what I’ve chosen. I don’t mean just any old job but a writing focused job. There are many out there but not all are stable and well paid. That’s a risk you take but industries such as marketing and advertising, journalism, e-commerce and much more can offer plenty of varied writing jobs. It might not be as fun as studying or writing your own but you’ll learn a lot about yourself, your skills and the wider world. It’s essential to find a job and environment you’re happy in, however, or you’ll lose all creativity very quickly.

The third main option, at least of those I know of and considered, was to move back home, keep a part-time or freelance job and write all the time. Some people are able to do this, physically and mentally – as well as financially – but it was beyond me instantly. I like my freedom, and I like my independence. If I lose those, I’d be as unhappy as I would be in a backend job that wasn’t getting me anywhere and there is no promise I’d get any more work done, either.

There are probably other ways but it’s all about being comfortable with yourself and your decision. No matter which path you choose, hard times are ahead of you and giving up is not an option.

Looking forward

This is a huge topic, so there’ll be two or three more throughout the year. I am searching for inspiration constantly and welcome ideas and suggestions you have. I’d love to hear your experiences of writing and reaching your goals and dreams. What did you do, when and how? It might help me and my audience and it will give you a chance to really see the progress you’ve made.

Which path have you taken and why? How has it affected your writing and personality? Would you do anything differently? Leave a comment and let me know!

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