Articles tagged "stephen king"

Is it time to quit your day job and become a full-time writer?

As the market shifts toward benefiting authors who use open-platform publishing, it’s good to temper expectations and think about how much profit you might realistically make with your book. While it’s easy to get starry-eyed when looking at the profits of prominent self-published writers, it’s also best to consider the average, and even the low end, of the spectrum. This CNN article cites that Do-It-Yourself authors earn an average of $10,000 a year (which means that many self-published authors earn less than that a year.) While $10K is a significant amount to supplement an income, it does not make for a full-time job.

It’s rare to find an author who gets to write for a living, rarer to find one who makes a good living doing it. There’s a long history of writers who have taken jobs to supplement their income while they worked on their writing. MacArthur “Genius” and fabulist George Saunders worked in a slaughterhouse. Nicholas Sparks sold dental supplies by phone. Stephen King was a high school janitor.

Jobs have a way of getting in the way of writing, but they also have a way of providing inspiration. Stephen King thought of the opening scene for Carrie while pushing around a bucket to mop hallways, and T.S. Eliot thought of scenes from The Wasteland on his way to work at a bank.

Writers tend to take advantage of the weekend or late nights to work on their writing outside of the office, and to make sure they don’t put aside their passion in lieu of a living (you can really have both). A great portrayal of this was this season on Mad Men, when Ken Cosgrove, an ad executive, revealed that he stays up late at night, writing, and becoming a successful science fiction author. Watching that scene, I found myself realizing I’ve been in the same position — staying up late, the only time in the day I had time to write.

So what are your day jobs? How has your work inspired you to be a writer? How do you find time in your busy schedule to write, and how do you make sure it doesn’t get put off?

Related Reading:

Setting Realistic Goals for Marketing Your Book: Part 1 – Treat Yourself Like a Business

Setting Realistic Goals for Marketing Your Book: Part 2 – Realistic Expectations

Inspirational Quotes for Writers

How many times have you come across a quote and thought I should write that down? If you’re anything like me, the answer is: a lot. Finding meaning in someone else’s words is a joy, and as a writer I find comfort in the wisdom — and struggles (let’s be honest) — of others. It’s nice to know that not everyone gets “it” (or a seven figure deal for that matter) the first time out the gate.

“I try to remind myself how much I love to stitch words together to make a story that kids might enjoy reading,” says Kristiana Gregory, author of the young adult novel Stalked. The Robert Frost quote taped to her printer reads, “All the fun is in how you say a thing.”

Alexandra Foster, a former New York City-based freelance writer, turns to Ralph Waldo Emerson when she’s struggling:

“Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; begin it well and serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.”

I have quotes all over my apartment. Above my desk I have Ernest Hemingway’s “We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.” And on my fridge there’s a small piece of paper with Andy Rooney’s words scribbled: “A writer’s job is to tell the truth.”

VH1 writer and blogger Kate Spencer says Andy Warhol’s honesty “speaks” to her — especially when he said: “Don’t think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it’s good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art.”

Each of us will take to certain phrases more than others, but in case you need a little inspiration these days, here are some quotes to consider:

“Every writer I know has trouble writing.” –Joseph Heller

“The road to hell is paved with adverbs.” –Stephen King

“You can make anything by writing.” –C.S. Lewis

“You can’t edit a blank page.” –Nora Roberts

You might also enjoy the Pinterest Pin Board we just started as a place to collect inspiring quotes for authors.

In the comments, tell us: What quotes inspire you as a writer?

Sizzlin’ Summer Reading List

Summer is officially here, and with it brings a heat wave. Ever felt like you’re just too hot to even move, let alone write a novel? So what better way to deal with the heat then by finding a shady spot and reading your favorite books about heat waves?

Here are some recommendations I have. They tend to be a bit on the scarier side of things, but that’s to keep your mind off this terrifying heat:

Cujo by Stephen King: A mother and son get trapped inside a Ford Pinto during the hottest summer in 30 years. A rabid dog waits to pounce if they attempt to leave. Uplifting reading, best done on a sweaty subway car surrounded by almost-rabid commuters.

To Kill a Mockingbird: Our precocious narrator Scout describes that fateful summer,  “Somehow, it was hotter then: a black dog suffered on a summer’s day; bony mules hitched to Hoover carts flicked flies in the sweltering shade of the live oaks on the square; Men’s stiff collars wilted by nine in the morning; Ladies bathed before noon, after their three o’clock naps, and by nightfall were like soft teacakes with frostings of sweat and sweet talcum.

Stephen King Publishes Joyland in Print-Only

One of the most financially successful authors in history, Stephen King, decided to make his new book, Joyland, available in print onlyJoyland, which is a throwback to the pulp novels of mid-century, will have to be read on a page rather than on a screen.

In a press release, King said, “I loved the paperbacks I grew up with as a kid, and for that reason, we’re going to hold off on e-publishing this one for the time being. Joyland will be coming out in paperback, and folks who want to read it will have to buy the actual book.”

By confirming his decision as an aesthetic one, King has made the decision that reading the book as an actual paperback is key to his vision. Authors often take liberties with presentation of their work, some maximizing experimentation, while others don’t even bother to have chapter breaks.

The Importance of a Writing Routine

When it comes to when and where to write, everyone is different. Maya Angelou starts early and works in hotel rooms with bare walls, Truman Capote claimed he could only write when in bed, horizontal, and Vladimir Nabokov scribbled on index cards for entire nights. Some authors hold themselves to 10 pages per day no matter what (Stephen King), while others force out 500 words a day (Ernest Hemingway). Despite these differences in approach many writers share one commonality: a routine. Like competitive athletes, writers don’t show up for practice when they feel like it. They commit to a schedule and stick with it. Yes, some days will be good, and some days will be bad, but in order to improve one has to keep going.

To be clear there’s no “right” routine, only what works best for you. So what is that? Well, first off, what do you want to achieve? Are you hoping to finish a 100,000 word novel in 12 months? Or complete a short story in 60 days? Once you know, write your objective down and put it in a place where you’re sure to see it every day. A constant reminder will hopefully spur you forward.

Now that you know what you want to achieve what’s next?

  • Friends, family, and work will get in the way, if you let ‘em. Don’t. Review your schedule and find a few times a week where you can allot at least an hour of writing time. Put it in your calendar (even set up a reminder 1 hour in advance) or tack up a note in a prominent place on the fridge or by your desk. Make sure everyone knows they cannot bother you unless there is an emergency.
  • You have your big objective in place, but what do you want to accomplish in each session? Whether it’s word count or page(s), commit to a measurable goal during your writing time.
  • Test out the best place to work. Maybe it’s not at home at your desk, but instead at a coffee shop, your friend’s living room table, or in Maya Angelou’s case, a hotel room. Wherever it is, make note of where you feel most inspired.
  • Turn off your Internet connection and while you’re at it, leave your phone in another room. This is your time not to be distracted and trust me, Twitter, Facebook, and People.com will try to lure you in. The worst thing you can do is Google a writer you know or admire who is about to publish his or her first, third, or eighth book. This time is about you, not you versus someone else.
  • Don’t be too hard on yourself. As I mentioned earlier, everyone has bad days. Anne Lamott wrote an entire book about the moments of despair, and the fleeting glimmers of good, in Bird By Bird (if you haven’t read yet, you should) that are part of being a writer. If you just can’t eke out even a sentence about your current project, describe your surroundings, write a scene from a work not yet started, or re-write the ending of your favorite TV show. Just WORK and reward yourself (ice cream!) afterwards.
  • Keep a log of your writing. Perhaps this is “business-y” but once you see your victories add up, sitting down to write will feel a whole lot more plausible. So jot down the date and your word count or number of pages and reflect on what you’ve accomplished once a week or month.

Like anything routine (ie. general hygiene, washing the dishes, etc.) it becomes somewhat second nature after a while. Explains author Kristiana Gregory, “Since it’s now a long-time habit, a day without writing makes me feel naked.”

So, Lulu authors, now it’s your turn to tell us what your routine looks like in the comments section below.