Write Your Own Story, Create Your Own Path
I’m often asked how I became a writer. With 57 personal journals to date, I think I became a writer the second I discovered a pen (wink, wink). But, I think the real question here is how I became a professional writer. And that answer isn’t as simple.
The path to professional writer can be as long and windy as the path to professional actor. And it has an equally unclear destination.
An actor starts out with a lot of prep work. He gets head shots made, pursues an agent and secures a day job until acting pays the rent. He signs up for acting classes, goes on auditions and networks as best he can to get his name out there. He takes little gigs to build up his resume. Sometimes he even takes non-paying gigs. Mostly, he takes a risk not knowing if he’ll ever see a return on his investment.
The same holds true for writers. You take writing workshops. You create writing samples. You take a day job to pay the bills and then you use your nights to write. You reach out to magazines, newspapers, websites, etc. to unearth their submission guidelines. You develop short stories and research articles based upon their specifications. Then, you submit your work and wait to be contacted, if you are contacted at all. (And you only get paid if you are.) You start out writing for smaller publications until you build up a literary repertoire for larger ones. Perhaps, you start an unpaid blog to create a following and hone your skills. Maybe you write a TV spec script (which is basically a mock script you write for free to prove you can write) that you attempt to sell or parlay into landing a staff job. You may even write a book and acquire an agent. The point is you write and you write and you write in hopes that one thing will lead to another and you end up somewhere fabulous.
Your path is undefined; your path requires tenacity.
So, you have to be resourceful. You have to put yourself out there. You have to really want it. In other words, you have to create your own path. It may get rocky. You may even slip and bruise. But, the path is yours to take. So write on and you’ll end up writing your own story, not just the words on the screen…