Writing IS a Business
Why is it that so many people don't take writing-as-a-job seriously? I once heard it said that writing is one of the most under-rated cottage industries in the world. I believe it.
Perhaps it is because many of us do so much writing in the course of a day anyway. We write reports for work. We send emails. We take down messages. None of that is creative writing (on second thoughts, some work reports might fall into that category) - but it's part of the reason that "writing" per se is taken for granted. Since the people around you write frequently anyway, they can't see your hours tapping away at the keyboard as being anything much more difficult. It's your 'hobby', isn't it?
Sometimes, you can change people's attitude towards writing by changing your own attitude first. It's very easy to lose track of the reality that writing IS a business when you're creating fictional worlds. (Imagine having so much fun and getting paid for it as well!)
1. Talk About Writing In Businesslike Terms
Let's imagine for a moment that you're not a writer. You run some other business. To make it a paying business, you have to look at income and outgo carefully. Note that not all businesses make a profit in the first year. (Many go into business expecting to run at a loss for the first year or even two years.)
A writing business works in just the same way. You're likely to put in a lot of hours, a lot of effort and at least some money before you can expect to see any results. Those results - payment for your labour - might be in the form of a flat fee, or an advance payment with royalties at intervals later.
Try putting it all down on paper. Work out:
It won't take you long to see that you need to put in a certain number of hours to get a return on your investment. When you talk about your writing, talk about it as your writing CAREER. Start dropping into the conversation a few terms like 'return on investment' and 'business plan' and watch for the change in the listener's expression. Quite often, this is the first time they've ever thought of writing in terms of being a business!
- your expenditure on supplies - paper, toner, hardware, software, etc
- your expenditure in hours - keep a writing log
- your expenditure in training - workshops, seminars, professional journals and books, courses
- your expected return - what do you expect to earn? This is, of course, hard to work out if you're writing fiction. Try surfing the web and asking around at writers' groups/discussion lists to get some idea. If you're a freelance writer of non-fiction, you may be able to set your own rates.
2. Plan Your Expenditure
Any business requires some start up money. Traditionally, writers have not spent much at all on their craft. (Even today some writers still have that 'starving for my art' mentality... writers should sit and scratch away with a quill in a cold room and hope for a government grant so they can afford more than soup.)
Let's get real here. If you want to establish a thriving writing career, you need to plan as carefully as you would for any other business.
Sit down and look at your budget. How much does your writing career mean to you? Are you prepared to go without other things in order to invest in your career? Do you need to sit down with the family and say: "This is important to me. This year instead of spending money on XXXX, I want to put aside $500 to go to this conference," or "I can't write while I'm trying to fit it in around the rest of the family's computer usage. I need my own computer."
Only you can know (a) how much money you can put aside in the next 12 months for your writing career and (b) the best way for you to spend it. A computer may be your most urgent need. It could be a fast internet connection. It could be an advanced writing course.
Here's a list to start you thinking:
Keep in mind that the cost of an internet connection could be repaid many times over by the amount of information you gain (either for research purposes or at writers' sites.)
- books for your professional library
- a computer
- a second telephone line (for your own internet connection)
- a writing course/conference/workshop/writers' retreat
- ergonomic furniture
- renovations to the house to provide an office for your writing
- software - a word processor or office suite
- filing cabinet/bookshelves
If you've been having trouble getting your career on track - or getting people to take you seriously - then start with your own approach. If you treat writing as a business, then it's much more likely that others will too.
(c) copyright Marg McAlister
Marg McAlister has published magazine articles, short stories, books for children, ezines, promotional material, sales letters and web content. She has written 5 distance education courses on writing, and her online help for writers is popular all over the world. Sign up for her regular writers' tipsheet at http://www.writing4success.com/
A Beginners Guide to Writing a Novel
No one is born a novel writer. But do you believe that we all have the capability to be writers? Impossible as it may seem but the answer is yes! If we have the passion for it and if we strive to make it happen, novelwriting can be as easy as writing ABC.
Pages: Your Book of Life
Many of us dream of writing a book. Why not.
A Simple Contest with a Strong Message: Wake Up Your Writing Spirit
The Blogfest 2005 Writing Contest has only been running for two weeks and already the results are overwhelming. And not because we're getting far more entries than we expected.
Realize Your Book Dream In 2005!
If you haven't realized the success you wanted last year, here's a way to reap the harvest with 86% improvement!Use the power of visualization.When you see, hear, and feel your book project already manifested through specific outcomes, you'll be in the 86% success group.
What Is The Single Worst Writing Mistake?
The following answer sounds simplistic?but think about it. The single worst writing mistake is "not starting.
5 Reasons People Like Technology White Papers
A good white paper is a paper that makes you look good.You look good when your white paper makes sense, when it's readable, when it concentrates on benefits and examples, and when it's easy to get.
Why I Write
I started writing as a way of keeping safe memories of a particularly adventurous 3 years of my life when I became totally addicted to the world of online chat rooms and met a number of 'gentlemen' for real that I met in fantasyland online.However after I allowed an educated friend to read my short stories, I was motivated to attempt a manuscript, and whilst it was extremely daunting to open my life up for judgement, I considered the good I could do by way of educating people on the dangers of this kind of activity far outweighed my personal discomfort.
A Perfect Day for Writers
In one of the exercises in my "Getting Started as a Freelance Writer" workshop, I ask participants to describe what a "perfect day" would be like for them.The responses are frequently tender, wistful and unfailingly vivid.
Create the Writing Life You Want
Ah, writing. For those of us who love to play with words, it's like standing in front of a smorgasbord, agonising over which delicacies to try.
How to Build Your Site with Other Peoples Content -- Part 1
Building a new website can be extremely exciting. Seeing your words in "print"--maybe for the first time.
Hunting for Markets Over the Holidays
Chances are, you'll be busy over the next several weeks. Between preparing for, celebrating, and unwinding from the holidays it may be difficult to maintain your regular writing routine.
Finding The Book Writing Resources, Tips, And Help You Need!
Writing can be more difficult that just compiling your thoughts on a few pieces of paper. In fact, it can be a challenge to find something new, interesting, and publishable to write about.
Top 10 Common English Goofs by Web Authors
In reviewing and browsing web sites over the years, I have compiled a list of the most common misuses of English by web authors. Here they are in Letterman (reverse) order.
Why Book Writers Need A Running Mate
By far, I have found that the lack of discipline is the biggest hindrance for most people, when it comes to writing a book of any kind. Although I urge you as a would-be writer to develop a theme because once you are clear on "why" you want to write a book, your motivational level will shift into a higher gear, I also urge you to get an accountability partner.
Authors-Stop Expensive Mistakes Before you Spend on Professional Services
So many clients come to me as a book or marketing coach telling me how they spent and wasted a lot of money and time following different well-known gurus in the book and publicity fields.
A recent client, Debbie, already got her books printed--over 900 left to sell from the 1000 at too much cost.
If You Want to Succeed As a Writer, Dont Just Think It, Do It
It never ceases to amaze me when a prospective writer confesses that he or she has never put anything down on paper. Obviously, that's the first step.
How To Avoid Viewpoint Slips
Sit back, and imagine what it feels like to be you. Now that shouldn't be too hard - you've lived in your own skin for a long time.
Ten Quick Tips for Inexperienced Writers
One of the biggest problems that inexperienced writers have is simply knowing how to get started. If you've unsure of your writing skills, then here are some quick tips to help you get started.
Screenwriting - The Value of Structure
Structure in the form of frameworks, work processes and goals enhances creative output:a) Short term goals (incremental productivity) produce more output than a "do your best" approach. Writing four pages a day completes a words-on-paper first draft screenplay in one month.
Are You a Freelance Writer? - Then You Need a Website
As a freelance writer, it is important to present yourself to your clients in a highly effective way. One of the most effective methods that freelancers use is a website.