How To Earn $0.00 From Writing Eight Hours a Day, Five Days a Week
There is, of course, something to be said for never giving up. But if you attain the same result year after year, screenwriters and authors, it’s time to return to basics. Five strategies follow.
Ask yourself first, “Why did I ever want to be a writer?”
If the answer is, “for the money,” you’re in the wrong business. Or, you may want to rethink your priorities. You may well become a multi-millionaire if you keep at it, but if money is your sole reason for getting in the game, for the love of all that is holy give up now.
If you began writing in the era of typewriters and have not attained your goals, you may be north of 50 but it’s not too late.
Check this out, as a reminder:
How to Be a Financially Impoverished High-Achieving Writer
I’ve promised complete candor with my Medium articles in an effort to help other writers. These are 10 steps NOT to…
I Didn’t Prepare For My Future. Now I’m a Writer Over 50.
How Desperation Became My Best Friend.
I’ve seen far too many talented people give up on their literary aspirations because they went into it without managed expectations.
If only their voices were heard today.
There is a whirlwind of difference between excessive expectations and managing expectations.
- Excessive Expectations is a negative only if a writer has no plan on getting to where they want or need to be. There is nothing wrong with shooting for the stars and landing among the clouds if the work is done smartly. Ambition, drive, and persistence are a high achievers’ closest friends, but far too many writers place emphasis on quantity of work, as opposed to quality. Marrying both is key. Daily practice your craft, daily deliver, and always learn about your business.
The following three articles were written with the intent of helping writers become business smart. The first applies to both authors and screenwriters; the second and third apply to screenwriters:
Writers, You Are Wasting Your Time Looking for an Agent.
You are the asset. A strong agent will find you but only when you’re ready.
10 Insider Realities of the Movie and Television Businesses They Don’t Teach in School
You can make a fortune. You can also pull your hair out of your head.
10 MORE Insider Realities of the Movie and Television Businesses They Don’t Teach In School
My first sequel.
- Managing Expectations should be part and parcel of every writer’s plan, regardless of present level of achievement. The entertainment and publishing businesses are strange beasts. In certain ways they are not unlike any other profit-driven industry. In other ways, creative-driven businesses require a certain mutual degree of managing expectations. A writer may not deliver as expected, and the company for which he or she is actively writing or targeting may not feel right.
A writer must be savvy at all times to manage expectations of a potential readership, a targeted company, and responsibilities endemic to his or her own creativity.
Otherwise, you will write and you will write … and earn as much money as you would from posting on Instagram:
5 Overseen Writer Strategies to Break Out of the “No Money” Rut
It is a rut. Why?
Because earning no money from your writing efforts is only temporary if you smarten up.
- Develop and Preserve a Reputation. You will meet in person or otherwise communicate with — on social media or otherwise — fellow writers as you work through the process of building a career. Always deliver what you promise, as word travels fast. People want to do business with those who they trust. Review some of the above articles, take on small paid writing assignments outside of your preferred writing mode, and keep on writing. Those scales will tip, and you will find paid smaller writing projects if you know where to look (see examples in the above articles) ... which will evolve into larger projects because people know people. There is little better for a writer than a valuable recommendation from someone happy with your work.
- If you’re a screenwriter and don’t have IMDBPro, get it. Then, without an agent (even if you have one), pick up the phone and cold call companies that produce films or television programs of the type you write. Keep going until you attain at least one response, and then send in your material. A likely percentage is one positive response out of every ten calls when you are starting out. You just opened a door and began a potential relationship, which is exactly what I did when I started, and still do. Rinse, dry and repeat. Get your work out there, and don’t count on anyone else to do it for you. For authors, subscribe to authorspublish.com and immediately begin the submission process as outlined on the links included therein.
- Open an account here, on Medium, and write until you made a penny. Literally, a penny. I’m not joking. You just broke the $0.00 foundation, and you are a professional writer. Again, most of us who began writing on this page started the same way. You are not “too good” to do this. I’m a fairly established novelist and screenwriter. I write here constantly. Most of us who stuck with it earn a hell of a lot more than a penny a day. Some now earn thousands monthly on this page. Sure, they are the exceptions, but the point is it can be done. So what’s your excuse?
- Watch contemporary TV, see a hell of a lot of new movies, and read a bunch of current books (in addition to the classics). These are what’s selling and/or being distributed, folks. It’s always helpful to take a pulse of the marketplace.
- Writers write. If being a writer is your identity, then you are a writer. If you consider yourself a writer — once you surpass that $0.00 foundation, that is — you have proven to yourself and the world that making money is possible. If you earn a few pennies your first time out, you can exponentially increase that amount moving forward. Soon, like many established writers, you may develop a “quote” for your services. You will never write for pennies again, and the benefits can be substantial. For example, I belong to the Writers Guild of America (WGA). I worked for many years to earn the qualifications to become a member. If I earn a minimum $39,000+ yearly, I receive free health insurance and pension for that year. As a member of the union, my writing rates are regulated as well. I have a minimum dollar amount I can write a film for, or a television program, and those figures are nothing to sneeze at. Note: This current agreement expires May 1, 2020.
I will write an article over the next week for Medium about how to join the WGA. If you are unfamiliar, the union does not cover books, only film and television/digital programming.
I made it into the WGA by working diligently. There is no other way. I followed the bullet points as outlined above for many years, and I finally attained the proper credits to meet my goal.
Regardless of how closely you hew to these bullet points, always look at your writing as a business.
The Literary Life: Writing as an Entrepreneur
A full-time literary life is yours if you want it. Just make sure your bed is used as a tool, not an excuse.
If you don’t, no one else will.
I wish you the best.
Thank you for reading.
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