Random Inspirations

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5 Essential Tips to Turn Your Passion for Writing into a Career

on May 7, 2015

From childhood, our parents and teachers encourage us to hold on tight to our dreams, just as the song says. However, some time between preschool and prom, many of us lose that amazing and innate child-like ability to believe we can do anything. In college, we might put aside our passions, like music, acting, or writing, to focus on some “marketable” major that will land us a “secure” (and likely immensely boring) job. After we graduate, we take said job and soon find ourselves stuck in an annoying day-to-day routine, one that leaves no time to realize our childhood dreams and passions.

In my first bestselling eBook on Amazon, Rumspringa Breakan Amish girl who wishes to become a veterinarian is told by her boyfriend, “Don’t just hold on tight to your dreams–actualize them.” This is the mantra by which I try to live my life. As a child, I had many dreams: to play Mozart for my dad on the piano, to play the flute in marching band, to become a cheerleader, to act and sing in a musical, and, most of all, to publish a book. By the time I was in high school, I’d accomplished all of these childhood fantasies except the last one. Self-publishing was not “a thing” yet, and I obviously wasn’t going to land a literary agent in high school, when my focus was split so many different ways. Besides, I was an amateur. I’d have a lot of work to do before I could become a published author.

So, I put aside that dream, instead earning my Doctor of Pharmacy degree and practicing pharmacy for 6 years. Although the field was lucrative and I enjoyed many aspects of it, I couldn’t let go of my dream of becoming a published author. I just had to do it. If I didn’t pursue my passion, I knew that I’d regret it for the rest of my life!

Here I am in my office, doing some writing!

Here I am in my office, doing some writing!

Going after your passion is hard work, and it takes guts. I’m a practical person, and I value financial stability, so I took my transition slowly. Here are five essential tips that I used when I decided to turn my passion for writing into my new career:

  1. Pursue your passion part-time first – I kept up my writing skills by journaling, and worked on my teen novel when I wasn’t at my “day job.” I also started a blog, attended writing conferences, and took advanced level writing classes to hone my skills. I worked toward my goal every day–while still keeping my full-time job for financial comfort. After a few glasses of wine, throwing your steady job away and rushing headlong after your passion might make sense, but it’s much less stressful to start pursuing your passion part-time first.
  2. Build an author platform – While I was working as a pharmacist, I began to dabble in indie publishing. I published my first teen novel on Amazon, but it barely sold any copies since I had no author platform. I realized that if I wanted to actually turn writing into a career, I would have to find my readers and sell some books! So, I became active on social media, began blogging twice a week, and hired professionals to create an author website for me. My next book, a teen short story, landed on the Amazon bestseller lists, mainly because I’d found a readership and learned to promote my work.
  3. Network, Network, Network – The indie author community is a friendly one. Since self-publishing is a relatively new field, we authors love trading tips. I attended several writers’ conferences and local meet-ups before my daughter was born. Now, I do most of my networking online. I’ve found many like-minded authors through blogs, Facebook groups, and Twitter. These contacts have been invaluable, providing me with moral support, as well as fresh ideas.
  4. Know where to look for work – If you want to make a full-time career of writing, chances are you’ll also have to do some freelancing in addition to indie publishing. TheLadders.com is a comprehensive career resource for professionals, and can assist professional writers in finding freshly-posted jobs. Also, local writers’ groups are an amazing place to meet other professionals and find out about interesting career opportunities.
  5. Evolve with the industry – Self-publishing is constantly changing, since it’s still a relatively young industry. If you want to keep doing your passion (i.e. writing and publishing books), you have to be willing to constantly change with the business. This means you must publish on multiple stores (I was exclusively on Amazon, but am now expanding to Kobo), and stay abreast of the latest trends in promotion.

So, there you have it: 5 essential tips for turning your passion for writing into a career. Writers out there, how did you pursue your passion? Aspiring writers, how are you planning to take the leap into the industry? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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