Have I ever told you how I started writing? Or anything about my creative journey?
I want to do that now, then.From the time I was about 7 to 16 (I’m guesstimating), my mom was a babysitter. My job, if you can really call it that, was helping to entertain the kids.
That included telling stories.
Even my brother loved my stories and frequently wanted me to tell him a bedtime story.
Eventually, I started writing them down I would also write poems. I was on the school paper and yearbook. But even though I wrote, I didn’t call myself a writer. My writing was mostly just for me at that point.
Don’t get me wrong. I had teachers who encouraged my writing, but those were mostly on school assignments. I didn’t think it was really that big a deal.
Fast-forward to college.
I was waiting for one class to let out so my class could start. I think it was Introduction to Sociology, if I remember correctly. A classmate came and sat by me (on the floor in the hall) to wait, too.
I was reading Writer’s Digest.
Her: “Oh. Are you a writer?”
Me (hesitating): “Yes.”
Her: “What do you write?”
To be totally honest, I don’t remember the rest of our conversation. It was *cough* years ago.
Why do I remember this much of it?
It was the first time I gave myself permiossion to say I was/am a writer.
This is why I say that you are the only person who says you can or can’t be creative. It’s why I say you have to give ourself permisssion.
No one else can do that.
If you hven’t yet given yerself permission to be creative, to be a writer, to be whatever, do that now.
You might have to do it more than once. That’s OK. Just keep doing it until it sticks.
Yesterday, a friend contacted me on Facebook Messenger with a question.
My daughter is interested in trying to publish a book she’s working on. Short stories and poems. She asked if i knew anyone that did that and of course you popped in my head. If it’s not too personal, can you tell me if you make money doing that? And what the process to do so is?
The thing of it is, there’s no simple answer.
Can you make money writing? Yes and no, because it depends on what you want to write and how much you market yourself. As a preliminary, I told her this:
The short answer is that some types of writing can and do make money. I haven’t made much because marketing intimidates the hell out of me. Even the big names have to do self-promotion. As for how to do it, take a look at CreateSpace.com. They’re pretty easy to use. The way I do it with their self-guided process doesn’t cost anything unless I order books.
Yes, I know marketing shouldn’t intimidate me. That’s really not the point here. (Plus I’m working on that and getting better at it.)
One of the biggest things to remember is that writing is just the beginning of the work. How many revisions and edits you go through will vary from project to project. And then there’s the whole publishing process.
Now, like I said in my original answer to my friend, most of my stuff is published using CreateSpace, so I follow the process laid out in their self-guided system. I don’t talk to anyone in customer support, so it doesn’t cost me anything until I order books.
I almost said the work of marketing/self-promotion starts then, but, really, you need to be doing that all along. Be talking about it on your social media platform(s). I mainly use Twitter and Facebook, but I do occasionally post writing-related stuff, especially when I have a new book out, on LinkedIn. The more you talk about it, the more interest you generate, which will (hopefully) translate into sales down the road.
Take a lesson from me: Don’t be shy about marketing and self-promotion. Most of the big names even have to promote themselves. Except maybe Stephen King.
The funny thing (to me) about the timing of this question is that I’ve been thinking about that. Making money writing.
A few years ago, I taught a class through the community education program at the local college. The name of it? “Make Money Writing.” In it, I talked mostly about writing for magazines, the query process, researching articles, finding other resources, etc. I’ve been thinking about moving that online, either as a video course or an email series.
Let me know if there’s any interest in that and which format would be best.
I promised my friend a list of resources. I’ve been thinking about how to narrow that down because I have enough that I could probably fill a book with just links. I’ve decided to just list the top 5. Links will open in a new window. If you have a pop-up blocker, hold the Ctrl key down when you click it so it will open.
I thought about not doing this, but I decided I had to.
My mom is a great friend and she’s a wonderful cheerleader for me. She has encouraged my creativity all my life. I don’t remember a time when she said that I would never make any money as a writer or that I should do something different. In fact, it’s in very large part because of her that I am a writer.
When I was growing up, she was a babysitter. I helped tell stories to the kids. I told bedtime stories to my brother. Eventually, I started writing them down. I started reading Writer’s Digest and other writing magazines. In college, I was reading an issue of WD while sitting in the hallway, waiting for class to let out so I could go in for the next class. A classmate sat on the floor beside me and noticed what I was reading.
“Oh. Are you a writer?”
I hesitated. No one outside of my family knew about that. “Yes.”
“Cool.” She started reading whatever she had with her and that was the end of that conversation.
I can’t — and won’t — say I was very confident when I answered, but I was confident enough to answer. And that is thanks to my mom.
So, yeah, I just wanted to take this time here to tell her happy birthday. She’s the best!
(The picture here is one of the very few selfies I ever took. It’s my Mom and I at a Kevin Welch concert at the Goddard Center in Ardmore, Oklahoma.)