When we put so much time, effort, and – if we’re doing it right – ourselves into our writing, it’s hard not to yearn for a sense of validation beyond our own quiet sense of achievement. Perhaps some of us have friends and family who read what we write and say lovely, encouraging things, which is wonderful, but many of us want more. We want the recognition of those outside our personal circle. We may even have the crazy idea of getting money for doing the thing we love.
And why not? Writing is hard work, to do it well takes time, skill, effort. Creativity is a valuable commodity, especially when merged with discipline and the tenacity to see a project through to its completion. The ability to tell a story that is entertaining, enlightening, illuminating, or simply fun, is a talent worthy of reward.
But for those considering transitioning their writing from private hobby to public commodity, the mind may be flooded with doubts and questions: Am I ready? Am I good enough? Can I produce a reasonable volume of saleable work? Will I succeed? Will I fail? Will I become discouraged? Should I try and cater to popular tastes, or would that be selling out?
These are what I see as the primary issues. Enough fear and doubt to dim anyone’s lights, I’d say. [Cracks knuckles] Let’s see if we can tackle them…
Am I ready? – Immaterial. You feel the need to try, that’s all the justification required. You’re ready to give it your best shot, and that’s enough.
Am I good enough? – Irrelevant. You will *never* be good enough according to your own standards, but it’s only other people’s standards that you need to meet, and their preferences are outside of your control. Do your best, put it out there, and see what happens.
Can I produce a reasonable volume of saleable work? – Presumptive. Sell something first, then revisit the issue. If finishing things is a challenge for you, which is not at all uncommon, perhaps acceptance/payment will turn out to be the spur you need.
Will I succeed? – Undoubtedly. Finish the story, send it off. Then you will have succeeded in all that is within your control. Anything after that is pure bonus.
Will I fail? – Balderdash. You only fail if you fail to try. Totally up to you.
Will I become discouraged? – Certainly. Then you will think of another market to try, or receive encouragement from elsewhere, and you will become undiscouraged. That’s the fun of it.
What if I’m tempted to sell out? – I don’t think there’s anything wrong in going out for burgers rather than filet mignon. Just as long as you don’t devalue or compromise the quality of your work based on your view of the market it is directed towards. It’s hard enough working on things you *want* to write. Why struggle to create something you wouldn’t even want to read? This is why I would never suggest dumbing down your writing. Do your best, always, even if you *are* writing stereo instructions. Make them the most inspirational, breathlessly evocative stereo instructions ever conceived. Whatever you do, find a way to be true to *you*.
Writing for money is a challenging business, but don’t ever let that stop you moving forward. Be patient, be persistent, be professional, and you will be published.