Thursday, October 24, 2019

So You Want to be a Writer?

By Cheryl Oreglia

Word on the street is you'll need an author platform. This has to do with your visibility or your reach as an author. How many followers you have on various social media accounts is indicative of your ability to sell your work or reach an audience.
A person is a fool to become a writer. His only compensation is absolute freedom. He has no master except his own soul, and that, I am sure, is why he does it. Roald Dahl.
Writers need readers or what's the point? And in today's world readers are hard to find. There are millions of blogs out there all hoping to distinguish themselves, self-publishing has opened the doors to both professional and amateur writers, and currently I believe there are more books available then there are people to read them. The good news is tough times don't last, but tough people do, so hang in there.
"Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time." Thomas Edison
Perhaps you have decided that you will write even if no one ever reads your work but readers complete the creative cycle. Don't you think? Feedback is crucial to the writing process and if no one reads your work, no one is suggesting how you might improve, or on a more positive note - what you do well.

When supply outpaces demand how do we find a community of readers who will remain loyal to our work?

Marketing is part of the solution but that can be not only costly but time consuming. And if I were being totally honest I would admit I hate the marketing side of the writing business. For me it's confusing, exhausting, and lacks authenticity. It's what emptying the liter box is to owning a cat. A shitty job but it must be done.

It's not all doom and gloom. If you can develop a robust platform that attracts and keeps readers you can probably make a living at what you love best. Writing.

Everything I've read, found on twitter, or from a podcast says you have to define your niche, know your primary audience, and identify the topics are you are most passionate about. Your author platform is the perfect tool to attract readers, and stop pissing off your friends, because they're tried of you pitching your work on their blatantly deaf ears.
“When I write, I feel like an armless, legless man with a crayon in his mouth.” Kurt Vonnegut
You'll need to establish a website where people can find you, something that introduces your niche, promotes your published work, maybe includes a blog, guest posts, and a social media presence. Some people add a YouTube channel or podcast. I've heard that popular web sites can lead to speaking engagements, workshop opportunities, free lance work for magazines or journals, writing retreats, editing opportunities, and depending on your orator skills you might be invited to tour with a group of inspirational speakers. That has yet to be my experience but I've seen it happen for some.

The intricacies of social media can be daunting and eat up an enormous amount of time. There are several free scheduling sites that allow you to schedule posts as a way of attracting readers while you tole away at your day job. I come across a few like Hootsuite or Buffer or something like Tweetdeck, there are lots to choose from, so go with the one that seems most suited to your needs. Full disclosure, I haven't actually used one of these, but I'm curious, and they make a lot of sense to me.

What is your experience with social media scheduling sites?

Another way to attract followers is to engage with the influencers in your niche, if you catch the eye of an influencer, and they end up retweeting or promoting your work on their sites, this can compel you to stardom overnight. At least temporary stardom. Most people sort of rubberneck, as if you're an accident on the side of the road, and tend to forget about you after a short span of time. 
“Sometimes writing is running downhill, your fingers jerking behind you on the keyboard the way your legs do when they can’t quite keep up with gravity.” Rainbow Rowell
Join a community of writers who are interested in the same topics, promote each other, engage with each other. This allows other people to find you and possibly follow your work because your particular brand speaks to them. Guest posting on popular sites is another way to promote your work.

My daughter told me the other day, "Mom make it your goal to get 100 rejection letters by the end of the year. That way you'll just keep going until you reach your goal and if you do get 100 rejections - Bravo - you achieved what you set out to do." I thought a silent but thoughtful look was the best response in this particular situation. But she does have a point.
"Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work." Thomas Edison (I have no idea why I keep coming across Edison quotes this week but I'm going with it.)
We have to decide why we want to write in the first place? Is it for achievement and recognition? Or are we looking for connection and relationship? Maybe independence and freedom? Influence and power? What is your gig? I love the idea of story telling but more importantly I love to find deeper meaning embedded in our common experiences. I want to expose my way of thinking  to my readers and see if it speaks to them, I want to take the fear out of aging, and find the humor hiding in the wrinkles. If I want to make aging gracefully seem like the most appealing part of life I might have to lie a lot! Haha - just messing with you.
“There is something in us, as storytellers and as listeners to stories, that demands the redemptive act, that demands that what falls at least be offered the chance to be restored. The reader of today looks for this motion, and rightly so, but what he has forgotten is the cost of it. His sense of evil is diluted or lacking altogether, and so he has forgotten the price of restoration. When he reads a novel, he wants either his sense tormented or his spirits raised. He wants to be transported, instantly, either to mock damnation or a mock innocence.” Flannery O'Connor
Motivation is key, it drives success, so knowing what motivates you is important. I thought I started a blog to establish a platform for my great American novel but along the way I discovered I love blogging, the simplicity of a short essay, the ability to publish weekly and build a small following that enjoys engaging with each other. As blogging became my priority the idea of a book got waylaid, as if an ex-boyfriend who you think about once in a while.

So I want to be a writer, but I veered off the path, and I found out blogging was my thing.

How about you? Why do you write? How to you stay motivated?

When I'm not writing for Across the Board, I'm Living in the Gap, drop by anytime.


Karissa Laurel said...

"It's what emptying the liter box is to owning a cat. A shitty job but it must be done" Brilliant. I couldn't have said it better myself!

Cheryl Oreglia said...

Thanks Karissa! I so appreciate your comment and encouragement!

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