You want to be a Writer, right? You’ve been penning your dreams to old Dear Diary since you were eleven. You’ve been crafting short stories since you knew what they were. You aced English class in high school, and just earned your BA in Creative Writing from a prestigious university. You’re on track toward your dream of publishing the next bestselling novel.
“Novelist” seems like the path that every aspiring writer is herded down when she begins to consider a long-term career in writing. It’s the form that a successful writer takes in your mind early on, and it’s kind of what friends and family assume you mean when you say, “I’m a writer.”
So, if you want to be a writer, you must be toiling away in your off hours crafting your manuscripts and contacting agents, right? Or, maybe you’re taking advantage of twenty-first-century developments and sharing your work via Friday Flash
Maybe. But, what about everything else?
After about a year of writing (professionally), I am at a giant intersection
. I had begun my writing career with the classic Next Great American Novel dream. I wrote an awful manuscript, then I started blogging in order to get my work in front of readers and to make some money. Then I had a couple of articles published in news publications and eventually landed a column covering stand-up comedy. Then I did a little content writing, ghostwriting, copywriting, and social media to make more
money. I tried Friday Flash. I tried NaNoWriMo
in 2011. I tried stand-up, inevitably. I started an email newsletter
. I self-published two books of short stories.
A year later, I still haven’t written a great novel. But I am absolutely in love
with writing -- every single kind
Do you know how many ways there are to do
this? Copywriting always kind of seemed like a way for writers to make money until they could afford to pursue their TRUE creative calling. But what if you’re truly
passionate about copywriting? Journalism, to the novelist, seems so cold and uncreative. But what if you’re fascinated by news writing and
, say, supernatural romance? Do you have to choose just one as your "real" writing and consider the other a hobby?
Resources for aspiring novelists, both in traditional and indie publishing, are everywhere. Advice for building a blog that makes money is abundant. Indie author groups and journo forums offer great support for new inductees. Twitter chats like #amwriting and #amreading
let you know that you’re not really alone even when you feel all alone at your desk.
But I’ve always felt like I don’t quite fit into any
of these pigeonholes quite as well as many writers do. Do you ever feel that way?
Maybe you don’t really like to read fiction.
Maybe you prefer to go to the club at night over curling up with a good book until you fall asleep.
Maybe you’re a dog person.
Maybe you hate coffee.
Maybe you enjoy organizing events as much as hammering out your WIP.
Maybe you pore over 140 characters more than over 80,000 words.
Or, maybe you have one of a myriad of other tics that makes you so uniquely YOU as a writer and not someone who fits on the same path as the others. What’s your next move?
Over a lifetime of dabbling
that has moved me from an avid reader of fiction to a prolific creative writer to a scholar of Non-profit Leadership to a blogger to a freelance journalist... et al... I always thought that I just had to keep trying things to figure out which one was Just Right for me. Now, at this giant intersection, I’ve realized that they’re all
right. Or, maybe none are right -- the point is, I can do whatever I want.
There’s more to the dream of being a writer than the Great American Novel.
Inspired by bloggers like Emilie Wapnick, who helps multipotentialites
smoosh together their differing interests to find their overarching theme; and Alexis Grant, who touts and exemplifies a slasher lifestyle
, I’ve accepted my multi-faceted writing career. I’m a blogger. I’m a freelance journalist. I’m a creative writer. I’m an indie publisher. I’m a copywriter. I’m an editor.
I am a DIY writer
-- self-defined, self-driven, determined, and willing to try it all.
As a DIY writer, you can give in to your disparate passions, follow your own weird path
, and create a career in writing that is Just Right for you. You don’t have to decide on a direction when you come to a fork in the road. You can just keep moving forward and forge a path that is entirely, uniquely, yours.