Knowing What You Want

Do you know what you want?

It’s hard to know how to get started as a writer. Should you write short stories or a novel?  Should you stick with one genre, or try several?  Should you get an agent and submit to traditional publishers, or try the self-publishing route?

The answers to those questions depend entirely on what you want.  A full-time career as a writer?  Financial stability? (That’s a tough one to achieve by writing!)  Fame and respect?  To simply be able to say that you finished a novel-length story?

Some people say “I want to be a writer!” without really figuring out what that means.  Other folks just want to be able to say “I’m a writer” at cocktail parties and high school reunions.  They might not even need any publication credits; simply having tried makes them feel like a writer.

Many people are motivated by the aforementioned fame and fortune.  A lot of individuals labor under the bizarre misapprehension that writing is easy, and an easy path to riches, failing to realize that just like any other job, it takes years of hard work to get good at it and to succeed at it.

Having specific goals is helpful.  Vague, nebulous ambitions like “be a successful writer” are hard to gauge, whereas “complete a novel” and “submit it to 10 agents” are solid, concrete steps that can be completed with a sense of satisfaction, even if they don’t always lead directly to fame and fortune.

But you still have to know what you want before you can create goals to help you succeed.

So what do you want?

Benjamin Clayborne would find it splendid if you were to peruse his blog, or to check out his story Chalice and Knives on Amazon.

Benjamin Clayborne

Benjamin Clayborne is an author of fantasy fiction (and occasionally science fiction) who lives in Los Angeles with his family. He enjoys reading, writing, long walks on the beach, arguing on the Internet, and referring to himself in the third person. He hopes you enjoy his writing, but his ego is strong enough to survive it if you don't.
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Steve Redmond
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Steve Redmond

I think the actual writing part of being an author is easy for some people, but that is not all that there is too it. You need to be able to take that writing skill and sharpen it up so that your readers can see what you want them too and feel it too. Not everyone can do that, it is an art.

My goals are small right now. I have 2 stories I am working on right now, both based on actual events in my life. I suppose that I have been fortunate in that I have had a fairly interesting life to draw from. I just want to finish them. If I can get one of them published then so much the better.

Keith
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Keith

When you sit down to write, it’s always easier to let your mind wander, to procrastinate, to think about all the what ifs and to just plainly get carried away. Focusing upon what you want is important in getting the jobs done.

Darlene
Guest
Darlene

I simply enjoy writing and don’t really care about getting published or not. For me, the joy is in getting words down on paper. I do share my writing with a few friends who have urged me to try for publication. I just am not motivated to do all that work. I’d rather write instead.

Seth Stone
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Seth Stone

I am going to send all the wannabes that I see posting in forums lately.  People are selling the idea that it’s so easy to publish a Kindle book that everyone should do it.  Sadly, that is producing a rash of sub-standard ‘books’ that are flooding the marketplace.  

Lyrie
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Lyrie

Writing is far from easy.  Have you seen that Simpsons episode where Lisa tries to write a novel and every time she sits down to write, she decides she needs to do something else first, like organize CDs?  I know so many people like that.  I think most of them just like the idea of being a writer, as opposed to the reality.

Kaylee Hammond
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Kaylee Hammond

Those laboring under the idea that writing is easy are obviously not writers.  I do see why you say that, though.  I often am told that anyone can write as long as they can string a coherent sentence together.  I tell them that having the ability to write does not make one a writer.

Keith
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Keith

I say to write what is inside you. We all have something inside us that wants to get out. We all have a story to tell. Even if you’re not ready to release a particular story to the public, at least get it down on paper. Write in hot blood. Write while the emotions are there. You can always revise it later or work it into something else. Just get to the writing.

Riviera
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Riviera

I think it’s important to figure out what you are good at alongside what you want. If you want money then writing cookie cutter romance novels is one option, but it’s doomed if you can’t achieve the standard required.

Try several things and see where you shine, then you can make more focused choices on the next step.

Jackelynn
Guest
Jackelynn

I find it very difficult to hone in on what I want to write. Sometimes my mind is bursting with many great ideas, I don’t know where to begin! Thank you for putting it into perspective a bit.

Liviu
Guest
Liviu

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. “Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.”

Craig Henderson
Guest
Craig Henderson

Being able to have control over who lives and dies in a story (I’m looking at you, Rowling).
And sharing a story that hopefully could be enjoyed by others. Even with my beginner writing skills.

Charmaine Quinlivan
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Charmaine Quinlivan

The satisfaction of having a book I wrote published, and for me to earn enough money from it so I can take a holiday 🙂

Philip Overby
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Philip Overby

I tend to take things one step at a time now. I used to think “I want to be a successful writer” and now I just think “I need to finish this next chapter.” It’s good to have an overall goal, but taking things easier makes the big picture seem not as intimidating. Great article by the way!

Benjamin Clayborne
Guest
Benjamin Clayborne

Thanks! “One step at a time” was a big help to me, as well. I still have to remind myself of that whenever I’m feeling overwhelmed. 🙂

PhoneixofAsh
Guest
PhoneixofAsh

Personally I want to be an author as a career. First, I have to improve my writing skills, (a lot) and get motivated to write. This dreams seems impossible a lot of times, but I still get up and try it anyways! Unobtainable dreams our the best kind after all! Is that kinda of depressing? 

Benjamin Clayborne
Guest
Benjamin Clayborne

Not at all! Having big dreams doesn’t mean you can’t have realistic expectations, or be satisfied with something less than completely fulfilling that dreams. Dreams don’t have to make any sense, after all. 😉

Aderyn Wood
Guest
Aderyn Wood

Completely agree!  I have my own private journal with my clearly defined goals in it.  The most important one being: complete first novel!  I like what you said about working out what you want from writing too.  If you want to be a bestseller you have a big challenge ahead, doesn’t mean you can’t work toward it though.  I want to be a ‘small seller’.  I love writing so I mostly do it for the pleasure of it, but I won’t be complaining if a book does become a best seller 😉

Sparkie
Member
Sparkie

A thought provoking article, to be sure.  Thank you for writing it!

As for what I want, I’d say this:  Short term, I want to have one of my short stories published and improve my overall writing skill.  Long term, I’d like to have a novel accepted by a big six publisher.

That last goal is a long shot, I know, but I can dream if I want to 😉

Benjamin Clayborne
Guest
Benjamin Clayborne

Yep, it’s good having solid goals! I wrote this article because I see a lot of people on the MS forums saying “Should I write this? Should I write that?” and I realized that in a lot of cases, they don’t really seem to know what it is they’re after.

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