My advice: Don’t do it.
The work/reward ratio is perhaps the ugliest of all forms of art. Throw your writing implements away and buy a guitar. You’ll be on stage with people of the opposite sex swooning over you in no time. Nobody swoons over stories about bionic slugs.
Seriously though, do you want to write full-time or as a side gig? Plenty of writers have a regular day job and a cool writing career on the side, particularly horror writers and bizarro writers. Supposedly Michael Laimo writes on the train to and from his day job. That’s awesome, but I’m going to focus on writing full-time.
If you want to write full-time, you may not get to write cool stuff full-time. I’m a full time copywriter. I get a nice paycheck and it keeps my writing chops up, but it can be tedious. I write fiction part-time. It doesn’t make me much money and it likely never will, since I write stories about evil eggs, but it’s my passion. I also write reviews, mostly for Razorcake and Profane Existence. I get free records.
Five Tips For Aspiring Full-Time Writers
Go to school for writing. This won’t benefit you as a fiction writer career-wise, but it will help if you want to be a working writer in a field like copywriting or journalism. There aren’t a lot of these jobs out there. Most go to people with degrees in writing.
Find your local literary center. In Minneapolis, we have The Loft Literary Center. It offers classes to help writers refine their craft. It’s also a great place to meet other writers who may know about local writing gigs. It may offer classes on copywriting, freelance magazine writing and other more marketable forms of writing.
Write a blog. If you can find a subject that is not being adequately covered, and that subject is marketable, meaning there are related businesses you can sell ads to, blog about it. You’ll need to learn about search engine marketing, which is an art in itself.
Join a writing group. Find a handful of local writers and get together regularly to review each other’s work. I have found working with writers outside of horror and bizarro to be beneficial. These people will become your writing support group.
Submit your work to the highest paying appropriate publication first. Don’t get drawn in by publications that pay in exposure. If they don’t have money to pay authors, they don’t have money to market the publication, meaning there won’t be any exposure. That said, if it’s really cool, you can still make money by buying copies at cost and selling them at cover price online or at conventions.
What have you done so far to further your goal of becoming a full-time writer?