typeMost of what we do at WatzThis? involves writing of one type or another. On a daily basis, one or both of us is currently doing one or more of the following types of writing that we get paid to do:

  • writing book chapters
  • writing a newsletter
  • rewriting and editing our book chapters
  • writing scripts for tutorial videos
  • writing answers to student questions
  • revising online courses

In addition to the writing that pays the bills, we’re also writing:

  • promotional and marketing text
  • the WatzThis? Manifesto (aka “business plan”)
  • emails
  • website content

It’s safe to say that each of us spends at least 80% of our working time writing. In the 5 months that we’ve been in business, we’ve written 1.5 books, a video course, several presentations, a newsletter every week, and more.

We sometime get asked what it takes to be professional authors. This isn’t a list for “aspiring writers”. Our advice to them remains “start writing or stop aspiring”. The following list is our advice for writers who want to take the leap to making a living from writing. Actually getting paid to write isn’t that difficult. It’s keeping the good thing going that’s hard. Here’s what we’ve come up with:

  1. Write when you can. Writing can be mentally exhausting. In order to do it well, you need to be at your best, physically and mentally. Some people write best in the morning, some are better at night. It’s completely impossible, in our opinion, to be a good writer in the afternoon. Figure out when you’re the best and set aside that time for writing.
  2. Take breaks. Words sometimes need some coaxing, but if you force them you’ll wear yourself out. Coffee and alcohol are poor substitutes for exercise and sleep but they’ll do in a pinch.
  3. Look for inspiration. This weekly newsletter grows out of things we talk about and things that happen at WatzThis? during the previous week. We get new ideas from a variety of sources including our students, friends, reading, taco Tuesday, and happy hours.
  4. Be open to criticism. A good editor can turn a mediocre writer into a good writer, or at least make them look like one. Editors, reviewers, and co-authors make us all do better. Ask for, and take seriously, criticism and feedback of all kinds.
  5. Respect deadlines. If you want to make a living from writing, one rule that must be respected above all others is the deadline. The time to ask for more time is before you start a project. No matter how much you don’t feel like writing, or how much you need to do additional research, or how much you need sleep, consistently meeting your deadlines and delivering strong composition is an important step in becoming a professional author.

Have the discipline to finish writing what you start, stay open to critiques and inspiration, take care of yourself, and deliver the goods on time and you’ll be well on your way to graduating from writer to author.

Do you want to be an author?
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