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Can You Be A Professional Writer?

 
I’ve talked to three authors this week who admitted that what they Really, Most Deeply want is not to have a book as a calling card or to make money from speaking or coaching BUT to be a full-time professional writer.
 
 
What we talked about is a strategic career pivot. Every author I talk to wants to write a good book that moves readers and changes their lives. However, the conversations I had with these three authors were different. They were serious people who had been shaped by books and wanted to be catalysts for similar transformations.
 
I wrote my first poem at 7 years old and my first book at 13. Like me, these authors KNOW — have always known — they are writers. What they don’t know, as one of them said to me, is how to GO BIGGER with their writing… how to EXTERNALIZE this internal identity.
 
 
On our calls, I gave them a roadmap that including the path to powerfully publishing, to carefully building an author platform, and, most importantly, to making the shifts in their life to reflect their true values.
 
Being a professional writer is more than a calling or a vocation, it is a soul identity. You KNOW if you are a writer. You have always known…
 
  • You knew when you wrote your first poem.
  • You knew when a single sentence YOU wrote made YOU cry.
  • You knew when you heard someone read your work.
  • You knew when a teacher whispered it in your ear after class.
  • You knew when words woke you up and demanded to be written.
 
Not because it makes money — though it can — but because nothing else makes sense.
 
What these conversations revealed were writers who had been pulled by life circumstances into other careers where they thrived in many ways, and so writing became a side-dish to their identity, not the main course.
 
They wrote emails, slide show presentations, and video scripts with ease and being a writer was part of what made them good at their jobs. They sacrificed parts of their true identity in service to a capitalist reality.
 
They believed they needed to trade being a writer for being someone who writes.
 
What I told them, and what I want you to know too, is you can be a writer.
 
It won’t be fast and it won’t be the most profitable thing you can do with your time. But it will be important and meaningful.
 
In each of these conversations I proposed a 3-5 year pivot plan to shift your income thoughtfully as you go bigger with your writing and let your sentences take center stage.
 
Tomorrow at 1:30pm ET I’m interviewing someone who is doing just this.
 
Three years ago Tiago Forte was a productivity expert, a self-published author, and a course creator; but he blogged about his deep desire to boldly step forward as a writer. He wrote one of the most brilliant book proposals I’ve ever read. He got the 6-figure book deal every author craves. And late last week, after 6 months of solid sales, he got his second book deal.
 
On March 11, 2019, Tiago decided to go bigger with his writing. On March 11, 2023 he signed his second book deal. It took 4 years of sticking with it but in signing that second deal he locked in a million dollars as a professional writer. (And note, collecting all that money will take at least another year if not 2). The path of becoming a professional author requires a few things:
 
  1. Non-negotiable… you have to BE a good writer, and WANT to keep getting better
  2. You must have a strategy to focus on your writing, but fund your financial needs as well.
  3. You must take a long-term approach. This pivot requires at least a 3-5 year horizon.
 
But if you get clear and have the right strategy and support, you can do this – you can make your living as a professional author. You can go bigger with your writing.
 
I’m sitting down with Tiago tomorrow to share his story. I’ll drop the link in the comments if you want to join me for that discussion. And if any of this hits for you, drop a comment below or PM me and let me know you want to go bigger with your writing too so we can put a plan together to make this pivot a reality for you.

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