Is Starting a New Career Tough Business?
Put plainly, nothing worth having is easily obtained, and starting a new career is no different.
If you thought that starting a new career was going to be tough business, then you are at least starting out with the right mindset!
The truth is, no one likes to start over after they’ve been doing one job for a really long time especially if they were particularly good at it.
So, what crazy person would leave an amazing career in real estate to start a new career that is bound to be a tough business, like in the case of chasing after an imaginary, writing career? Me!
I love writing, always have. So, when my chance finally came to start over, I leaped. No questions asked. I left the money making industry of real estate to enter the world of writing. It had zero guarantees and I was scared out of my mind! After all, everyone I knew kept telling me I was absolutely nuts to start a new career at 36 because it Was Tough Business, starting over that is.
How many chances in one lifetime does someone get to start their dream job and to do it in a way that is genuinely satisfying? That’s not to say there haven’t been a ton of ups and downs along the way and I’m sure there will be about a billion more. The point is, I love what I’m doing. No day is ever the same and I get to write.
There’s a catch though. To start over, you have to accept the fact that you are essentially starting from scratch with no support system in place, no salary, and no one to guide you. So, you’re basically on your own every single day with a lot of questions about the in’s and out’s of everything.
It never ceases to amaze me when I think, “I’ll get everything on my to-do list done today.” Then I giggle at myself in the mirror and realize it’s never gonna happen.
The hard truth is that whenever I sit down at my computer to start writing, the inevitable occurs. One of my four children will lovingly run up to me and say, “I’m hungry!”
Then the creativity flows right out of my head as my mom brain struggles to hold on to the idea I had moments earlier. I’m living my dream job but my dream job is at home, with my husband and four children constantly around me, beckoning me to do stuff for them or find something for them or cook something real quick. How the heck did I expect to get anything done working from home?
Writing as a profession is not the normal nine to five job. It requires a whole lot of patience, self-love, acceptance of rejection, and business sense. These skills are basic must-haves if you hope to survive as a writer and parent in the industry.
All writers know that ideas come from anywhere at anytime. Sometimes ideas are absent for days, weeks, or even months. This is what we all know as “writer’s block”.
As a result, whatever book, blog, article, or paper we were writing ends up in a pile of “I’ll get to it later”. So, we need a tool box of tips to help us get through the bog. Here are some essential tips I found that helps me.
5 Tips to Clearing Writer’s Block
- Turn off all social media and media outlets (Cell Phone, TV’s and computers). Clearing the block means getting rid of all distractions.
- Find a quiet space to meditate in or relax in. The mind is a finicky thing. It needs its own private time to adjust to the noise in the world. By quieting the mind, you will aid in allowing new ideas to flow.
- Eat something and stay hydrated. Nutrition is probably the most overlooked tool that writers have in their toolbox. As a writer, I know what it’s like to skip a meal or two. That leads to frustration and stress, which then leads to writer’s block. Try keeping a banana near your laptop and a bottle of water.
- Be patient with yourself. Understand that you need a break and that taking breaks from writing, from stress, or even from family life is not a shameful thing to do. It’s brave to admit to yourself when you need a little “me time”.
- Be open-minded. Accept that ideas come from the most unexpected places possible. I once saw my youngest struggling with her birth injury and how that affected her abilities to keep up with children her own age. I felt bad for her but in that moment, an entire children’s picture book came to mind on how to explain what children with brachial plexus birth injuries go through emotionally and mentally.
Which Social Media to Use to Grow Your Writing Exposure
Growing your business as a writer is a whole different ball game. You need a toolbox with a large arsenal to work with. If you’re a writer, a parent, in a relationship, or still working your normal day-to-day job, you know that it is near impossible to laser focus on growth.
Still, a writer is seeking to become a published author. These days, no publisher or literary agent will offer representation without a writer having a following.
You need an audience that is easy to market to. Many writers have Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter. The more active people on social media will opt to have a website, a podcast, and possibly even a Youtube channel.
The truth is, the new marketing model is aimed at publishing people who already have a strong base to market the published work to. How do you get there, though? How do you build a large following without compromising your time, your sanity, or your money?
Well for starters, you need to be using the right social media outlets and you need to post consistently. In the beginning, I found organic growth with Instagram. I would post 3 to 5 times per day and my followers seemed to like it. To this day, Instagram remains my top platform to use with one another site listed below. You can view my Instagram feed here to get an idea of the growth I mean.
Then there was Twitter. I found that even though I was posting with the same frequency as on Instagram, I just wasn’t getting any followers. It wasn’t until I started following a bunch of other followers, participating in communities like a writers community, and hash tag challenges such as #writerslift where everyone followed one another — this is when I started to see a small sliver of growth. By small sliver I mean a microscopic level of growth.
SnapChat and Facebook
On SnapChat and Facebook, I saw zero growth. If I didn’t pay for advertising on Facebook I wouldn’t have gained any of the few followers I did receive, most of whom were trolls.
I eventually deleted my Facebook page and I barely go on SnapChat anymore. In the future, I may find some really interesting ways to use SnapChat to grow my audience.
For example, SnapChat would be really easy to use for posting live video of an interview with myself, basically answering any questions that viewers send my way. Or I could even showcase a video feed of my writing process with all the screams and moans and whining that I do in each day as I process my thoughts.
Then there’s the biggest social media platform of all that almost no one realizes is a big deal. Pinterest, my dear friends, is the best social media platform to use to promote your posts if you already have a lot of followers or monthly viewers.
In recent months, I have grown from only having 2K monthly views to over 20K monthly viewers. That’s a huge audience to promote your writing to.
As I stated earlier, strategy is a key component to having a business go from barely surviving to all out success. Here are some tips I have learned to keep my writing business on track with success.
5 Strategy Tips for Success
- A Schedule — When you start a new career, it’s not enough to know that it’s a tough business. You need to have a schedule and you need to stick to it as best as possible if your new office is the couch.
Commit to writing for a certain amount of time per day, every day. Doesn’t matter if you have zero ideas or if the creativity juices haven’t started flowing yet. Allot yourself an amount of time, one or two hours per day, (personally, I set my time for one hour in the morning and two to three hours at night, each day) to sit and write. Could be scribbles, thoughts – even negative thoughts, character ideas, future titles for books you haven’t even started writing yet, plots you’d like to write about, etc.
The point is to just write for that amount of time, no matter what. If you have kids like I do, time is tough to give away, but it’s not impossible. You can set an alarm to wake up an hour earlier than normal. You can set the phone timer to fit a certain allotted time for writing.
Remember, it’s your time and you can make or break your writing schedule as you see fit. Keep in mind, sticking to a writing schedule is like forcing yourself to clock in every day at an actual office job. You have a time to clock in and a time to clock out.
- A Deadline — So starting a new career is tough business, you get it! What’s the big deal if you don’t have a schedule either? Maybe you’re not the time keeper you hoped you would be by now. But deadlines are another way to keep yourself on target for meeting your writing goals.
Whatever you are writing, a deadline is just as important as having a schedule. Give yourself a hard deadline to finish your project by. So if you’re working on a picture book for children, set a deadline for when you’ll finish your first rough draft, for when you’ll edit it, for when you’ll finish your second & third rough drafts, for when you’ll edit those, for when you’ll write, edit, and review a submission letter, and finally a deadline for when you plan to submit your picture book to publishers, editors, and agents. Deadlines help you stay accountable.
- Goals — Yes, goals are different than deadlines and yes, you need goals to start a new career. Because why? Because starting a new career is tough business. I’m just going to keep saying it in the hopes I drill it into every person’s mind who read this post so that they can learn the tools needed to start over in any career.
You need to set goals for each project as well as yourself the Author and the Business. Maybe you’ll set a goal as an author to write three picture books in three months, submit them all to 100 literary agents by the end of that quarter, or set a goal to finish your novel in six months.
If your planning goals for the business side of your writing, maybe you set a goal to get your own author website, build your social media presence, create a brand for yourself and do that all in a certain time frame under a certain budget. Having goals written out is like having a map in hand. You can make pit stops along the way, but you know what your end destination is. So, goals are the step-by-step directions on how to get to your end destination and how to get back on track in case you happen to deviate from the plan.
- Tools — Every writer needs their handy, dandy toolbox. For writers, there are writer retreats, free online writer’s classes, blog research, studying up topics that interest you, books on world-building and so much more. It doesn’t matter what industry you are starting over in, each deserves your attention so that you may successfully start that new career and so that it doesn’t turn out to be a tough business.
The tools available to writers are endless. How do you know which ones to pick? The answer is I’m not sure. I’m working on that part, too. I can tell you I’m choosing the tools to better my writing process — I am picking the ones that pertain to enhancing how I write, the kind of writing I want to do, how to play around with narration, and how to build better worlds. I am also researching brand building, marketing, and a lot of other tools that could help me get noticed by publishers.
- A Long Term Plan — A lot of times, writers don’t realize you need a game plan for more than just starting out and getting published. You also need a plan for what happens after you get published, what happens when the royalties stop coming in, and what the next step is for when you decide to step outside of your literary comfort zone and no one wants to back you. You need a long term plan. In real estate, agents are taught to plan as far as 20 years in advance for our business. We have to ask ourselves, Where do I want to be in 1 year, 3 years, 5 years, 10 years, and 20 years? That’s the hardest part to do in an industry where everything is commission based and you have to work eighty hours per week just to keep the business flowing. There’s no end game in sight unless you plan for it. So, what’s a writer’s long term plan? While I haven’t figured that part out for myself just yet, I’m already thinking about it. I can imagine it from the real estate point of view. I imagine needing to invest in a secondary venture outside of writing, possibly film, photography, or a different type of business altogether and making sure I grow in all directions while I grow my literary venture.
Though the above lists are not exhaustive, I highly recommend these as a starting points in any career you embark on. Once I implemented the above tools in my own business as a writer, I found myself finishing multiple projects, sticking to a schedule, and finishing chapters.
It is satisfying to realize your dreams once all of the negative thoughts stop.
To all the newbies out there, the moms and dads who aren’t sure if they should take the leap, the people who think they’re not good enough, just remember that dreaming about doing what you want is not the same thing as doing what you want.
Find your niche and have the courage to step out of your comfort zone to make your dreams a reality. Who knows, maybe you’ll be the next Nicholas Sparks or Nora Roberts or even better… You’ll be the Next You!