I reviewed Carolyn See’s book, Making a Literary Life, for Carpebiblo.com in 2008. I found the book so beneficial that I decided to do a new post for it. Carolyn has three pieces of advice in the book that I have followed, and incorporated into my writing life – write a thousand words a day, five days a week; communicate with successful authors; and communicate with other aspiring writers.
Because I maintain a job in my non-writing life, I do not manage the thousand words a day five days a week. I do make myself write a minimum of four hundred words a day, five days a week. On the days I only have time the energy for four hundred words, I do blogs and book reviews. On the weekends, I do a thousand words a day – working on book chapters, technical reports, or short stories. I have submitted a few short stories, none published yet. I have published numerous non-fiction works.
I have found authors surprisingly approachable. At least once a month a local bookstore or organization sponsors an author talk/book signing. Conferences are another good opportunity to meet authors. I have met several authors at Florida Library Association, Florida Writers Association, and the American Library Association (ALA) Annual Conference. The ALA annual conference occurs in late June/early July, and hosts an amazing line up of authors. An additional alternative for communicating with authors is through online organizations. For example librarything.com sponsors author chats. I have even had success with good old snail mail author correspondence. I have corresponded with Carolyn Say via snail mail and at the ALA annual conference in Anaheim.
Lastly, meeting with fellow aspiring authors can be extremely helpful. Family members and friends may not be totally truthful in critiquing your work. If your spouse says your story sucks, it could make for bad cohabitation. On the other hand fellow authors can be nice, but brutally honest with their critiques. State writing associations generally have local chapters that sponsor monthly meetings. My prose is generally acceptable and I have published non-fiction, but my dialogue stinks. So I have joined the Florida Writers Association to seek help with this weakness.
So keep writing, and follow Carolyn See’s tips, and good luck with your writing career.