The Smooth Path to a Writing Career

Image: © gearstd (

The Quick and Easy Path to a Writing Career

It’s time to reveal the secret that successful writers have known for years. From the first word on the page to six-figure publishing deals with the Big Five (Penguin, Harper Collins, Simon & Schuster, Hachette, and MacMillan), this is the quick and easy path to becoming a successful writer.

Are you ready? You know you’re ready.

If you want to succeed, if you really want to make it in this business, you need to get off your ass and write. It is as easy and as hard as that.

All the talent in the world is going to do nothing for you if you do not put it into action. You can take all the creative writing classes you want, you can read every how-to book by authors like Ernest Hemingway and Ray Bradbury, but unless you put pen to paper (or fingers to keys), you will never grow. Luck, though helpful, is not necessary. Without a completed manuscript, that so-called luck is a moot point anyway.

Simply put, there is no magic formula. You have to put the work in to get what you want.

The Round About Path to a Writing Career

In the perfect world, all writers would find their names on the New York Times Best Sellers List. In reality, few of us will make it to the big show. It takes hard work and perseverance, not to mention a thick skin, to make a career out of writing. That shouldn’t stop any one of us from the pursuit.

If you want to replace your day job with a writing career, it’s better to start now than later. To do that, you have to make room for writing in your everyday life. Not every writer started out successfully, and not every writer starts out in a job that involves writing.

Few people get it right the first time around.

Perhaps the most famous example is Stephen King. He was a janitor before he was discovered, and now he’s one of the most world-renowned authors of our time. J.D. Salinger was an entertainment director on a luxury cruise line. Kurt Vonnegut worked at a car dealership. Perhaps the most curious and interesting is Jack London. He was an oyster pirate, and yes that’s an actual thing. He would steal pearls from oyster farms on San Francisco Bay and sell them for profit.

A long line of physician authors gives me, a family doctor, hope too. Where would the world be without Michael Crichton’s iconic Jurassic Park? Robin Cook’s Invasion or Outbreak? I had the good fortune to meet both Michael Palmer and Tess Gerritsen at a writer’s conference in 2009, and they were as amazing in person as they are on the page.

These authors may not have started out where they wanted in the writing world, but they kept their storytelling alive.

Your Path to a Writing Career

Take the lead of the successful authors before you. Break through the maze that you built for yourself, the maze of self-doubt or so-called “writer’s block”, and start on your path to writing.

What you need to do is as simple as it is hard.

  1. Write when you are inspired. Never let a good idea slip away. Keep a pen and paper at the ready, even at the bedside. Some of the best ideas strike when you are falling asleep or even in your dreams.
  2. Write when you are not inspired. Waiting is a writer’s worst enemy. Do not use the excuse of writer’s block to keep you from the page. You can always edit a page of bad writing but never a blank one.
  3. Write when you have something to say. Sharing what you know can be empowering. Sharing your ideas more so. Don’t hesitate to leave your mark.
  4. Write when you don’t know what to say. Sometimes you learn more about your story as it evolves on the page. Let your ideas work themselves out. Writing helps you to grow as a person.
  5. Write because you love it. Why else would you write? If you write for fame and fortune, you could find it hard to outlast the rigors of the trade. When you write for the joy of it, it will shine through in your work.

No matter what you do, get started today. You will find that elusive “smooth path” to a writing career — it’s called writing.