Being a creative writer is a dream for many, but the reality is different. As a creative writer, you may write about anything you choose; however, you will struggle to earn a living. Your work may never be seen by a wide audience, and you may struggle to secure commercial work. Before you give up your dream, it’s important to understand the realities of being a creative writer.
The first and most pressing truth about being a creative writer is that you will struggle to be published. There are numerous small presses and independent publishers who would love to see your work, but they may never get the chance. Even then, it’s unlikely that your work will be accepted for publication without significant revision. Consequently, you will be hard-pressed to make a living as a creative writer.
If you really want to succeed in this field, it’s important to establish yourself as a serious and committed writer, with enough talent to convince the editors of your worth as a prospective author. Once you have established yourself as a professional, you can then pursue securing commercial work. Of course, this won’t prevent you from writing for pleasure, but it will certainly make you a more attractive hire for literary agencies and in-house counsels who need material for briefs.
The second important truth about being a creative writer is that you will struggle to connect with an audience. In an ideal world, your words would resonate with a wide audience and compel them to action – perhaps even action that would benefit your work. In the real world, your words may never be heard by anyone but your friends, family, and perhaps a few dedicated readers. Even then, these people may have no idea how your words could benefit them. The reality is that if you want to succeed as a creative writer, you need to find a way to connect with a specific audience, and you need to do so quickly.
One option you have is to target a specific group of people and attempt to speak to them directly. Perhaps you can empathize with their situation and convince them that your product will solve their problem. Or perhaps you can evoke a sense of nostalgia in the hearts of readers and compel them to buy your book because they feel they know you and your work. Only you can determine which of these methods will be most effective for your writing career, but these are some of the options you have.
The third and final truth about being a creative writer is that your income is unpredictable. You may find commercial work for short stories and articles, but it’s extremely rare for a writer to cash in on their work. Additionally, your income as a freelance writer may fluctuate significantly from month to month, depending on the number of projects you take on. Moreover, the nature of your work means that you should expect to be re-hired frequently. Consequently, you should always have some sort of savings in case you are unable to secure work for a certain period.
Your writing talent may land you a lucrative contract with a prominent firm, or you could be hired directly by a government or nonprofit agency. But you never know when that good fortune may come. The point is that as a creative writer, you should always be prepared for the unexpected.
Your writing journey may not be easy, but these truths should at least give you the motivation to keep writing. If you can overcome these challenges, you may one day find yourself living your dream and enjoying financial security and a loyal audience. Who knows? You may even decide to write a book yourself one day and enjoy the limelight that comes with being a published author.
In sum, if you really want to succeed as a creative writer, it’s important to possess the right mindset. Be smart about the facts of the situation, realistic about your chances of earning a living, and determined to make the most of your opportunities once they arise. Only you can decide if you’re up to the challenge, but if you are, congratulations! You’re on your way to financial security and a better life.