How can you make a living off of being a writer? How do you become an established writer?
I've loved writing since the second grade and it has always been my dream goal to be a writer. However, since I know writing is not an easy career path to go down, I tend to lose inspiration for writing. I have other options in my mind, but if I want to stick with writing, I feel I need to know how I can make a living off of it. What have other writers done to get to the point where they can live off writing? What can I do? I've been writing on Wattpad for years, and I've won a local poetry contest before. I've also written a full-length high school play (90 minutes), and taken creative writing lessons. I'm not sure what else to do.
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I've managed to make my living as a writer for nearly 40 years. It hasn't been easy. It tends to be a cycle of feast and famine, so it's important to be disciplined and smart about managing money and expenses. Never live beyond your means. Keep a cushion of savings. Never assume that one high-earning year means the next year will be as high-earning. These are the more practical aspects of trying to live as a writer, or an artist, or musician, or going after any other artistic pursuit.
One of the ways in which I managed to survive was that I did many different types of writing. I've written for animation, film, tv, comics, graphic novels, videogames, non-fiction educational books, and other odd assorted types of writing such as writing short "passages" that were used to test reading comprehension at various grade levels. Basically, I would jump at any opportunity to learn a new area of writing. However, it's important to pursue the type of writing that you love. I happen to love writing for comics and animation and games. If I didn't have a love and passion for that type of writing, I wouldn't do well at it.
Now, I also had opportunity and luck. I was in Los Angeles. I was often in the right place at the right time. And I made contacts and networked like crazy. You'd be surprised at how important the personal connections can be. Writing may be about sitting your room alone in front of the computer getting the work done, but a writing CAREER is also about getting your work out there, promotion, networking, and various other personal skills.
On my to becoming an established writer, I had to hold down regular jobs to support myself. There are a couple of different options here: a) get a job that covers your living expenses, but isn't too demanding, so that you have the mental and physical energy you need to work on writing in your own time; or b) get a day job that is associated with the type of writing you most want to do so that you can learn more about it and make connections. That depends a lot on where you live or are willing to live, and what other skills you have. For example, if you decide that your primary interest is in writing novels, you might try getting some kind of internship or entry-level job with a literary agent.
Christy recommends the following next steps:
Susan E.’s Answer
Making a living purely off being a writing is very hard to do. It's actually best to make writing as one of your careers and have a day job to supplement it or vice versa. So, find something that you know keeps you practicing writing or even become a writing teacher.