Want to Be a Successful Author? Burn Your Ships
Want to be a professional author? A successful professional author? To become more than what others are, we must be willing to do what others won’t. We must go where they fear to tread.
We must burn our ships.
When Alexander the Great arrived on the shores of Persia, his forces were hopelessly outnumbered, and yet he gave the shocking order to burn all the boats. Legend tells us that he turned to his men and declared, “We go home in Persian ships or we die.”
Your day job is a means, not an end. It is no longer a safe retreat in the event of failure. Cast off your fear. Let go of the voices in your head, the siren’s song to play it “safe.”
Lash yourself to your desire to be a novelist. You are not an “aspiring author.” You are a pre-published author and the rest is just details. Having too many “escape routes” and “backup plans” diffuses energy and focus. It affords too many opportunities to make excuses.
Years ago, when I decided to become an author, I burned the ship of “working in sales.” Sales paid well. Really well. It also came with a company car, an expense account and the admiration of others because I had a “great job.” When I vowed to be come a professional author, I burned that ship.
Sure, it meant living with my mother, shopping for my clothes at Goodwill, and losing most of my “friends.” It also meant avoiding most of my family because they 1) thought I’d lost my mind and 2) they kept finding me “real jobs.”
To gain everything we must lose everything. We can try and keep a foot in both worlds, but it has a price.
Many of you have families depending on you, so I’m not suggesting you go pull a Kevin Spacey on your boss. What I am suggesting is total focused commitment. Make writing your priority.
I burned the “sales ship” but I allowed myself to take the “writing ship” even when that meant hopping on the “dinghy of writing instructions for software” (which kinda just made me want to put my head in a wood-chipper). But, at least I was writing. Eventually, I had to burn the tech writing ship. It paid too well and kept me from my dream of being an author.
Expect to burn numerous ships along the way, but do it. Commit.
Burning our ships isn’t easy. My recommendation? Blogging is a great intermediary ship. It accomplishes a lot at one time:
1) Blogging is writing.
2) Blogging develops discipline & trains us to keep a professional pace and meet self-imposed deadlines.
3) Blogging builds a permanent platform far more resistant than any other form of social media.
4) Blogs can eventually be harvested for content and made into books.
5) Blogging (the WANA way) cultivates your 1000 true fans.
My methods harness the same imagination you use in your fiction, and teaches you how to blog in ways that connect to readers, not just other writers.
We don’t need more writers writing about writing, and we certainly don’t need another writing blog. Readers don’t read them.
The WANA approach is efficient and an ideal choice for those who still have to “clock in” for the meantime and registration is now open for my Blogging for Author Brand class. A WANA class is more than lessons. You will be surrounded by fellow
soldiers writers, a permanent team to help you keep charging when you desperately want to go back. Why?
Because we burned our ships, too.
You must trust in others or success is impossible.
~The Clone Wars
We are not alone.
What are your thoughts? What do you fear? What is keeping you from “burning your ships”? Have you burned your ships successfully? What advice would you offer? Tell us how you did it. For the WANAs out there, maybe share your story. Did being a WANA make burning your ships easier?
I love hearing from you!
How to Quit a Job with Kevin Spacey (caution: adult language and content)
To prove it and show my love, for the month of January, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. If you leave a comment, and link back to my blog, and mention my book We Are Not Alone in your blog…you get your name in the hat THREE times. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly.
I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novel, or your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).
NOTE: December’s winner is Steph Scottil. Please send your 5000 word Word document or your synopsis (no more than 1000 words and in a WORD doc) OR your query letter to my assistant Chad at c carver at wana intl dot com.
And also, winners have a limited time to claim the prize, because what’s happening is there are actually quite a few people who never claim the critique, so I never know if the spam folder ate it or to look for it and then people miss out. I will also give my corporate e-mail to insure we connect and I will only have a week to return the 20 page edit.
At the end of January I will pick a winner for the monthly prize. Good luck!
I also hope you pick up copies of my best-selling books We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media and Are You There, Blog? It’s Me, Writer . And both are recommended by the hottest agents and biggest authors in the biz. My methods teach you how to make building your author platform FUN. Build a platform and still have time left to write great books.