If you are reading this, then my assumption is that you want to succeed as a writer. Most of us want to make a living from our writing and have the freedom of creation.
To be successful means we have to put our best foot forward everyday towards that. It is easier said than done and when the rubber meets the road a lot of writers who consider themselves professional writers would easily fall in the category of Amateur writers.
Read below on some Amateur habits that could be slowing down your success.
- Wrong mindset and attitude: Amateurs blame others for their failures instead of owning up to them. To succeed at anything, you need the proper mindset and the first thing is to take total ownership of yourself and your life choices, and how those impact your success or failures. Listen, we were not all born with a silver spoon in our mouths, that means for some of us we have to grind harder i.e work on projects that don’t excite us so that we can find a way to fund the projects that excite us, funding doesn’t necessarily mean shooting a film but being able to curve out some time to work on your passion projects because you are not worrying about bills. ‘The government has failed us, the education system has failed us, the broadcasters have failed us,’ these are just but some of the comments I see being floated around by creatives who feel failed, but I urge you to stop pointing the finger outward and instead adjust your attitude and take ownership of your life to succeed as a writer.
- You are swayed by the wind: Do you stay the course and commit to finishing a project or do you change course immediately a trend changes? E.g. perhaps horrors are hot and you start writing a horror then midway the trend is out and now comedy is hot and you switch to that. Listen, if you want to succeed, you have to be a finisher. You have to see things through, ignore trends and just finish your projects.
- You are all faith and no works: Are you a dreamer, dreaming of how success will find you miraculously without getting the work in? Even the Israelites in the wilderness had to bend down and collect the manna. God didn’t ask them to lie down and open their mouths and the food would land in their mouths. So yes, you absolutely have to put in the hard work. Hard work means you stay committed to what it takes to be a professional writer, and not letting yourself get discouraged. Get intentional about putting in the work; daily.
- Being a taker and not a giver: Before you ask someone for favours and anything you need, what have you given them first? Before you ask a friend to read your script, did you offer a similar service to them? Amateurs are takers, professionals are givers. Look deeper within yourself and see if you are more of a taker than a giver and adjust accordingly.
- Ignoring your peers: Do you think you’re too good for your peers and ignore them in pursuit of higher level people in your field? Yes, it is good to look for mentors but most likely those mentors are too busy for you. What you need to do is to hook up with your peers, read each other’s work, give each other constructive criticism, share resources with them and grow together. I love the African proverb: If you want to go fast go alone, if you want to go further go together. I believe that’s true for us in the creative space.
- You don’t invest in yourself: The only shopping problem I have is buying more books than I have time to read. I buy books, fiction and non-fiction because I understand that I have to always re-fill my creative well. I apply for workshops and labs both free and paid for, because I am keen to grow as a writer and creative. Amateurs could not be bothered to spend any amount of money on their craft. They would rather spend it on other things that don’t propel them to the next level in their craft, then complain about how tough the industry is for upcoming creatives.
The question is; how badly do you want to succeed as a writer? You have to invest in yourself to grow if you ever want to make a living from your craft.
That said I have my book on writing ‘Get Writing, A Beginner’s Guide from Idea To First Draft’ Available as an e-book on Amazon.
If you’d like a hard copy and are in Kenya you can order from me through my email email@example.com and we can take it up from there!
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