Every unpublished writer is hesitant to call themselves exactly that—a writer.
For many, the title still has a quality that one doesn’t dare associate with their own scribblings; a writer is driven by the rhythm of their pen, of their undying need to say something; a writer and what they write is an effortless kind of magic—never cliché, convoluted, or poorly written. But misleading perceptions aside, whether you write behind a mahogany desk or on your couch in a Ninja Turtle onesie, you’ve earned the right to call yourself a writer. Now it’s time to start acting like one!
No matter what your writing aspirations are, the basic goal likely remains the same: to be able to call yourself a published author. Though the process by which you achieve this goal may be unique to you, changing your mindset and how you perceive your own work is a vital, and often underappreciated, step to career success. After all, how can you expect to successfully query a literary agent or market yourself to a publisher if you aren’t willing to take yourself and your dreams seriously? It’s up to you to move away from the “it’s-just-a-hobby” mindset—or you risk your dreams staying just that—dreams!
While we could spout off a million more clichés about confidence, making your dreams a reality, and believing in yourself, we’re the doing sort. Here are three practices to help you take yourself and your writing dreams seriously.
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1. Talk About It
While some writers love to chat about upcoming projects and their vision for success, others tend to be a bit more reserved, leaving their writerly persona out of their day-to-day life—if that’s you then listen up: While it may be difficult at first, telling people you’re a writer is an essential step to owning the title yourself. If you’re not keen on telling people about specific projects, no problem. It can be as simple as mentioning that you’re also a writer when someone asks you what you do. Sharing your writing dreams with other people will not only motivate you to actually write, but will hold you accountable to your goals. Own it!
2. Submit, Submit, Submit
As Kate discussed in our third vlog episode, Get Published: Treating Your Writing Life As a Career, it’s nearly impossible to rise out of obscurity with zero writing or publishing history and land yourself a book deal. Whether you’re writing book reviews or publishing short stories in literary journals, publishers and lit agents like to see that you have publishing experience. Career aspirations aside, it’s also a great way to build your confidence as a writer, and help you feel like an active, engaged member of the literary community—an essential step to owning your title as a writer and taking charge of your dreams. After all, tackling an entire manuscript is a pretty arduous venture, and you’re going to need something to do in the meantime!
So you’ve got a manuscript or a partial manuscript, but what’s next? Whether you take it to a writing retreat to develop, or simply read an excerpt aloud to a trustworthy friend, investing in your manuscript outside of your own private writing bubble is essential to taking your writing dreams seriously. After all, no one ever got their book published by keeping it to themselves. If you’re feeling unsure or like you’ve hit a wall, a writing coach is an invaluable asset.
A retreat or residency might be a great place to find support and solace. If you’ve been writing for a while but you’re having trouble nailing down your voice, bring an excerpt of your manuscript to a reading or a writing circle and see if you can get feedback. And if you have a manuscript or a partial manuscript and you’re ready to take the next step towards publication, track down an editor who can take you there (did we mention that’s exactly what we do? Check out our Services page, or book a free 15 minute call with our Editor-in-Chief, Kate). It’s time to step out of the bubble and take action!
There you have it, sugar: (more than) three ways to make some serious moves on those writing dreams and start feeling like the badass b**** we know you are. Just remember, changing your mindset and taking your writing seriously is a process that your story is worthy of. Your dreams can’t stay dreams forever. Now go get ‘em!
You might have a plan for how you’re going to finish your manuscript, but do you have a plan for how you’re going to get it published? SIgn up for our Publishing Guidebook for JEC’s step-by-step plan to publishing perfection!
Editor, Writer & Founder of JEC. She's inspired, most often, to write about writing and how women (writers) can fix the world. She has a lot of opinions, actually.
Hayley is Copy Editor/ Editing Ninja for JEC. She is also an arts journalist for several online publications including Scene 360 and Illusion Magazine.
Georgia is JEC's Content Writer, a published poet, and past Poetry Editor for This Side of West, Modern and Contemporary Genre Editor for TheAlbatross, and Contributing Writer for The Martlet and Saltern Magazine.
Jaime is a Research Curator at Royal Roads University and as such knows a thing or two re: communications. She is JEC's Communications Specialist.