Thursday, August 22, 2013

Are You Invested in Your Writing Career?

"I saw the
dollar signs, man" at Santa Monica

If someone had asked me this about four years ago, I would have said "Of course I am!" But I really would have been lying with that response. Yes, I was invested to some extent, in my writing career. I was pitching articles frequently, networking with other writers and taking on contract jobs that helped me gain more experience. And I was taking the leap and beginning to write fiction.

You know that old saying "you have to spend money to make money?" There is a lot of truth to it, especially if you are trying to make money as a writer. The conundrum is that most writers starting out don't have a whole lot of money to invest--often they've left salaried positions to pursue their writing dreams and have a hard time justifying any outside expenses. I used to be the same way.

You have to find a happy medium, though. This time last year I considered investing in a pricey online MFA program because I thought it might help my career in the future. Eventually, I decided that option wasn't right for me and researched other ways I could learn and grow as a writer without breaking the bank. In the past year, I paid the membership dues and joined a professional organization I've been eyeing for a few years, signed up for two writing conferences and took an online children's writing course so I could get feedback on a young adult novel I've been working on. I just sent another manuscript I've been working on to a professional editor so I can get a better idea of where I need to expand the book.

Do I have a lot of extra money to do this? No, not really. I have contract work that helps me pay the bills but I'm still stretched tight. I've been using money from one of my side writing/public relations gigs to help me pay for these extra expenses and I consider that money well spent. I no longer feel like I'm writing in a vacuum and am becoming more comfortable in sharing my work with others. I've also met so many great colleagues along the way! I'm confident that these are necessary steps to take on my path to becoming a published novelist.

I'm curious to know how you've invested in your career and if it has paid off yet. Please share!

Photo credit: Rohan Travellin via

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