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What a fictional character can teach you about being a creative entrepreneur.

 

In my latest novel, my main character, Tabitha Riley, is a terrible example of what it takes to survive as a writer. She lost her job at a main newspaper following an injunction issue, and tries to make ends meet as a freelancer.

 

Is it possible to survive as a freelancer? Sure, with lots of hard work. You have to be out there promoting yourself, making contacts, writing non-stop, taking contracts. And even then you usually have to have another job. Perhaps, if you’ve been working at a major newspaper, you’ll get some regular magazine work, but those cheques aren’t particularly inspiring. 

 

So Tabby relies on her mother, as a twenty-six year old writer. I’m not saying you shouldn’t accept help, a lot of us do, but when you depend on a parental figure for your ‘allowance’, you never quite get the independence that freelancing embodies.

 

But what does Tabby do right?

 

-She knows what she’s worth, and when given an opportunity, refuses to work for nothing. Interning can be powerful if you want to learn a new skill, or get the inside scoop on a market you’re interested in cornering. Working for free doing what you’ve been doing for years? No way.

 

-She knows where her value lies- her audience. Tabby writes a ridiculously popular blog called ‘Miss Twisted Thinks’ where she rants about things. For some reason, this becomes a hit, and a newspaper wants to give her a column. She knows, and the paper knows, that it’s her reach that they’re interested in gaining. Don’t be precious about why people want you, the point is that they do.

 

 

  • She uses social media to create relationships. It’s easy to follow people and never interact with them. It’s easy to feel out of the loop- but twitter allows for those one off ‘favourites’ and comments that you’d feel awkward giving in real life. Bugging your friends on facebook to like your page is a standard way to interact. Remember what Forster said: ‘only connect’.

 

If you want to hear more from Tabby, here’s my novel The Last Word

Or if you’re still not sure, you can read some reviews here

 

@almichael

 

www.almichael.com

 
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Ten Things Writers Need to Know To Keep Upbeat

  • Yes, your current WIP might be rubbish right now. And that’s okay. No-one shits gold. Give yourself a break, keep plugging away at it. Rubbish written down is better than genius never created. You’re doing something, keep going.

 

  • Someone, somewhere will like what you’re doing. There is something for everyone, people are varied and random and have all different tastes. This is not to say you shouldn’t edit, or work harder, or be humble. But trust that if you like it, someone on this massive planet probably will too.

 

  • This brings me to the third realisation. People who are worse writers than you have publishing deals. They have agents. They occasionally create million dollar franchises based on moody teenage vamps or bondage. Some days, this can be depressing. Seeing five star ratings for something that makes you want to bang your head against a wall can be difficult. But flip the argument- if they can do it, you definitely can.

 

  • 50% of writing is marketing. If you want to get anywhere you need a solid understanding of blogging, twitter, readers and how to reach people. Do I particularly like that it works that way? Nope, but times are changing. If you’re writing, talk to people who might become readers. 

 

  • 50% of writing is ACTUALLY WRITING. Yes, social media matters. So does online presence, author profiles and all that other stuff. BUT, you are a writer because you write. There is no point having a great following, with people eager to read your stuff when you have nothing to present to them. That’s just a waste of great marketing.

 

  • Stop talking about your work. No, okay, I know that clashes with number 4. Reveal bits, ask questions, put up quotes. But your WIP is In Progress for a reason. I know talented writers who have been talking about the same book they’ve been planning to write for years. If you’re not writing it, eventually someone else will come up with the same idea. So get to it. The more you talk about it, the less you’re focusing on it. Writing is internal- keep your work safe until you’re confident in it.

 

  • Talk to other writers. Not necessarily about your work, but about your process, about how you find writing. Hell, sometimes you don’t have to talk about writing at all, but finding someone who shares that passion is important. I love having friends call up to discuss a plot point, or texting a writer friend when I’ve finally fixed a developmental character issue. It’s nice to be part of a group.

 

  • Check your ego. Ego is a funny thing when it comes to writing. You need enough of it to keep you going, but you also need to reign it in. Why? Well, for starters you become an arsehole who no-one wants to hang around with, but mostly because if you start believing you’re a writing genius, nothing you do will live up to your own expectations.

 

  • Think about why you started writing. Are you doing this just for the publishing deal? Or would you be writing anyway? Do you love what you do, does it relax you? Are you so wrapped up in your characters and stories that it brings you joy? If you’re only doing it to try and make a quick buck, well sorry Bud, this ain’t the life for you.

 

  • What would you do if you weren’t writing? If you packed it all in, stuck the WIP in a drawer, and never looked back- what would you be doing right now? Would it be as fulfilling? Would it change anything? Would it be creative? Give yourself some time to do these things, but hopefully it makes you realise that you wouldn’t be you if you weren’t writing.