A college student recently contacted me to ask if I’d help with part of her course. In short, she had to select her ideal career and then ask five questions to someone within that industry. The student in question wants to be a full-time author, and as her questions are quite interesting, I thought I’d share my answers with you…
1. What skills are most important when it comes to being an author?
Being able to tell a compelling story is, without doubt, the most important skill, particularly if you want to write a book that actually appeals to readers. However, it’s a job that requires a few other essential skills: self-discipline, determination, and a cast-iron work ethic. Many people assume that writing books for a living must be a dream, but there are plenty of days when it’s an absolute nightmare.
2. Have your responsibilities changed during the time you’ve held this job?
When you publish your first book, readers have no expectation because you’re an unknown quantity. They pick up your book and hope it’s a good one. With every subsequent book, that same reader won’t just hope it’s good – they’ll expect it to be at least as good as your previous works. Consequently, the responsibility to maintain standards grows with every new release, not least because an increasing number of people will (hopefully) be reading/judging it.
3. What is your favourite part of this career?
When a complete stranger emails to say that your book has in some modest way, impacted their life. It might be that they simply enjoyed it, or it could be that the story truly resonated and they now have a fresh perspective on a situation in their life. Whatever the reason, no author tires of hearing positive feedback.
4. What are the best aspects of being an author?
Being able to work to my own schedule is the best part of this job. There are days when I’m in the groove and can write three thousand words without much effort. However, there are just as many days when it’s a real grind just writing three hundred words. There aren’t many jobs that allow your productivity to fluctuate so radically from day to day.
5. What are negative aspects of this career?
At the end of the day, writing books is no different to any other job. You get up in the morning and work for eight hours, week in, week out. So, no matter how much you might love writing, that repetition does wear you down after a while. And, like everyone who works in the creative industries, you’re subject to the whims of your own imagination. If you’re struggling with an element of your story, no amount of staring at the screen will deliver a solution – you’ve got to be prepared for long periods of frustration.