Webucator, an online technical and business educator, is celebrating the annual November NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) by asking novelists about becoming a writer and staying motivated. Below are their questions and my answers.
How do you stay motivated to keep on writing? Please tell us in the comments!
What were your goals when you started writing?
Even as a kid, I loved to write. But I never thought of writing as a career. Instead, I ended up with a few degrees—art, business, mechanical drafting, manufacturing management—while I decided what I wanted to do with my life. When I started writing professionally as a freelancer, I wrote about food, business, finance, just about anything that came my way. At that time, freelancing was a way to earn a little extra money while doing something I enjoyed—and doing my other work to make a living.
But when I wrote and published articles in some children’s magazines, that’s when I realized children’s writing is the niche for me. And that’s when I decided to really start taking my fiction writing more seriously: by spending more time at it, taking writing classes, joining SCBWI (Society for Children’s Writers and Illustrators), learning as much about the industry as I could, and submitting to agents and publishers.
What are your goals now?
Once I started taking my fiction writing more seriously, my goals changed in that, as I said in the answer above, I wanted to get my novels published, and by a traditional publisher (versus self-publication).
Now that two of my novels have been published (both in July 2014), my goal is to sell them, of course. The money would be nice if I sold lots of copies, but, ultimately, I want people to read and enjoy my stories!
Even though I get marketing help from my publishers, I have to do a lot of marketing myself. And I’m not alone. These days, authors are expected to do much of their own marketing and promotion because there are so many opportunities now with social media.
It’s a lot of work and time consuming, and takes away from writing time. So now I have to balance my publication goals between marketing and writing.
What pays the bills now?
What pays the bills is my husbands’ job as a test engineer and, together, we have a small business designing and manufacturing electronic test equipment. I work at home running that (and fitting in writing time when I can). We spent many years in the tech industry both in engineering and manufacturing, which has helped us with our business.
Assuming writing doesn’t pay the bills, what motivates you to keep writing?
That’s a pretty safe assumption!
I love being creative, and writing is one outlet for that. That is part of my motivation. The other is that I still have stories I want to tell, stories I want kids and teens to read. I want to bring to kids and teens the joy I found in books from an early age. Books opened up new worlds for me, taught me things, and expressed feelings for me that either I didn’t want to or didn’t know how to articulate.
I think writing for kids keeps me in touch with the feelings from my childhood. It also encourages me to keep an open mind when I’m with kids, to remind me they are unique individuals, and to give them that respect.
So I’m motivated to keep writing my fiction. I want to write a sequel to Yakimali’s Gift and would like to get started on the research ASAP because that can take some time. I have a rough draft for a sequel to my middle grade ghost story The Castle Blues Quake, so that’s something I need to revise. Then I have a completed middle grade adventure novel Cryptogram Chaos that needs some major revision before I submit that to publishers. I also have a rough draft of a picture book related to Yakimali’s Gift that I would love to publish someday.
That is the motivation: to be creative and to get my stories out there and in the hands of readers.
And optionally, what advice would you give young authors hoping to make a career out of writing?
My road to publication has been a long one, and I’m so excited to finally have made it to “published author.” I want to tell any aspiring writers out there to Never Give Up. Though this might be a cliché and something you’ve heard many times before, I really mean it. I’ve gone through the tears and depression of all those rejections. But I kept at it. I never gave up.
Whether you’re young or starting with writing later in life, my advice is to keep writing, keep revising, keep improving. Take writing seriously. It’s a craft–learn it. Try to get some small writing jobs under your belt, even if, at first, you’re writing for free (or close to it). There are many blogs and websites looking for content, and that’s a good place to start. After some experience, check out online and print magazines for possible article submissions.
If your goal is to publish a book, either fiction or non-fiction, learn everything you can about the publishing industry. Write, write, write, everyday. Read, read, read, especially in the genre in which you’re writing. If writing is your passion, if publication is your goal, never give up and you’ll find your dream will come true!