1. Do What You Love, the Money Will Follow:
Sure, it sounds like an old cliche, but there’s a reason why cliches exist. They tend to be true in a timeless sort of way, which is why we all get sick of hearing them. And when you hear this very bit of cliched wisdom from someone like J. Michael Straczynski (creator of Babylon 5 and Sense 8), you tend to take it seriously!
And it makes perfect sense. If your work is something you love doing, it doesn’t feel like work. This makes it so much easier to invest your time and energy into it and become good at what you’re doing. Given time, someone is sure to pay for you for doing it! And even if they don’t, you’re still doing what you love, so what does it really matter?
2. Keep Your Day Job:
This advice is something I picked up from a fellow writer who goes by the name of Chris A. Jackson. And it made a ton of sense to me, so I kept it close at hand. It’s a wonderful thing to commit to a labor of love. But until you can make enough money from it to support yourself, be sure you’ve got something else to pay the bills. It’s always good policy to have more than one iron in the fire.
3. Do Your Homework:
Speaking of cliches, there’s also the old adage: “write what you know.” But in the course of developing story ideas, you’re likely to stumble into subject matter that doesn’t fit with your area of expertise. Hell, I once thought that when it came to writing science fiction, the only limitations were my own imagination.
I know, rookie mistake! In any case, no matter what your story is about, you want to make sure you know the pertinent facts. You want to understand the concepts you are exploring and be up on current developments. Don’t guess your way through anything or fall into common misconceptions.
4. Find Your Voice:
In addition to knowing your subject matter, you also need to know your genre. So before you set out writing that manuscript, be sure you’ve acquainted yourself with what has been said (and is being said) by other writers in your field. This will not only let you avoid doing something that’s been done to death, but it will also help you to refine what you are trying to say with your work.
5. It Takes 20 Years to Become an Overnight Success:
This tidbit of advice was given to me by my father, and it stuck with me because of how ridiculously rational it is. Like anything in life, things change slowly but seem like they happened quickly in hindsight. You wake up one morning, you realize how far you’ve come and ask yourself, “where did the time go?” It’s also an important reminder that no one hits it big right out of the gate. Take your time, work hard, be patient, and the kudos will eventually arrive!