When I first started writing, I thought it’d be easy. All I had to do was sit down at a desk with a laptop and an oversized cup of mint tea while I tapped away at the keyboard, right?

Well, the tea definitely helped, but once I finished my first novel, I had no idea what to do next.

A small part of me hoped that the second I completed my manuscript, a publisher would come knocking at my door, offering to publish it.

Spoiler alert…that didn’t happen.

Instead, since I had no idea what else to do, I set that novel aside and started writing a new one.

But finishing a novel that I didn’t know how to publish felt as pointless as being stranded on a desert island with a mountain of gold.

It irritated me that completing my first novel draft left me with more questions than answers. And for the first time since I’d started writing, I realized just how little I knew about being an author. So after that experience, I began my quest to learn as much as I possibly could about writing and publishing.

I read article after article, book after book, and even attended a couple writing seminars, but I still didn’t find all the information I was looking for. My quest for answers ultimately led me to The Company, where (thanks to Brad Pauquette), I found all the answers I needed—and then some.

In fact, I could probably write dozens and dozens of pages about all the things I learned during my time at The Company, but for your sake (and mine), I’ll limit myself to the top five things I wish I knew before becoming a professional writer/author.

#1 Hybrid/self-publishing is expensive.

I’ve always been drawn to the idea of indie-publishing, so I was shocked to find out just how expensive publishing can be if your goal is to produce a quality book.

Between hiring editors, interior designers, cover artists, marketing your book, etc. the costs can really add up.

In fact, a small part of me is glad that I didn’t know how expensive publishing is before I decided to become an author. Because if I had known that indie or self-publishing could cost me thousands of dollars, I might have talked myself into choosing a different career path…

#2 The hardest part of being a professional writer is writing when you don’t want to write.

Fairly early into my two years at The Company, I learned that if writing is going to be my full-time job, I can’t treat it like a hobby.

If I was a barista at a coffee shop but I only worked when I felt like it, chances are, I wouldn’t be working there very long. Now if I owned that coffee shop, I’d be free to decide when I wanted to work, but if I didn’t hire anyone else and only worked for a couple hours each week, I’d probably have to sell my coffee shop within a few months.

Being a full-time author gives me a lot of freedom, but I can’t only write when I feel like writing, or when I’m inspired to write if I want to make a living.

Becoming a professional writer takes a certain amount of perseverance (or stubbornness in my case). Because if I’m being perfectly honest with myself, even though I love writing, I don’t always want to write.

In fact, there have been so many days where I’ve had to force myself to get the words down on the page.

But if I want to be perceived as a professional writer, I have to act like a professional writer. That includes getting up every day and doing the work—even if I’d rather do anything else.

#3 Writing is a balancing act.

There are so many different sides and facets to being a professional writer—besides writing.

I’m not just an author, I’m a businesswoman, website designer, marketer, editor, producer, and publisher.

Even if I hire other people to build me a website, edit my stories, or publish my work, there are still plenty of other things that I need to do (or at least know how to do) for myself.

#4 Community is key.

If I want people to read my stuff, they need to know that it exists… Which obviously means that I have to tell them.

That being said, over the last couple years I learned that finding people who will buy, read, and review my books, is only part of creating a community.

If it weren’t for the prayers and support of my family, friends, and even people I don’t know, I would have quit being a professional writer less than six months after I started.

#5 Perfection is a story-killer.

This is a lesson that I’ve had to learn over and over again at The Company (and one I still have to remind myself of to this day).

When I spend my time worrying about making a project perfect instead of actually completing that project, I grow discouraged, miss my deadlines, and end up producing results that are objectively terrible.

Giving myself the freedom to finish a project before attacking it with a red pen often leads to better results. A finished “mediocre” project is better than a partially-finished “perfect” project. After all, I can’t edit something that doesn’t exist.

I think the coolest thing I’ve learned since I first began writing is that you don’t need “natural talent” or some sort of “gifting” in order to be a great writer.

Whether you decide you want to be a full-time author, or that you’d rather keep writing as a hobby, it doesn’t matter. As long as you keep learning and practicing, you’ll continue to grow and improve your writing skills.

Which of these five lessons do you think are the hardest to learn? What would you add to my list? Leave a comment below and let us know.

About the Author

Thirzah is a full-time author, editor, and tea enthusiast. You can find her fantasy book, The Librarian’s Ruse, on Amazon or barnesandnoble.com.

Learn more about Thirzah and connect with her on her website, ThirzahWrites.com, and find her on Instagram @thirzahwrites.

Thirzah completed a full-time apprenticeship with Brad Pauquette at The Company. Learn more here.

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