It Is Okay to Change Paths

A guest post by Tess Gerritsen

This piece is extracted from Signature’s 2017 Ultimate Writing Guide

Long before I became a doctor, I was a writer. At the age of seven I wrote my first suspense novel, about a blue zebra named Mickey who was warned never to go into the jungle. Naturally, Mickey went into the jungle. I bound the pages together with needle and thread and proudly announced to my father that I had found my future career. I was going to write books!

My father said that was no way to make a living. And that’s how I ended up in medical school instead.

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A guest post by Debra Eckerling

Most writers would agree: it’s a lonely profession. If you’re lucky, you get to spend lots of time behind the computer writing articles, prose, books, screenplays, etc. The drawback: you spend lots of time behind the computer.

It’s essential for writers to connect with others for various reasons.

Building a network gets you:

  • Leads for representation, submissions, and assignments. I have been writing for years and have only gotten two gigs from blind queries; the rest have been from referrals.
  • An audience, which only continues to increase in importance in this digital and social media age.
  • A support system for the ups and downs of the journey.

Therefore, you need to actually make an effort to meet, connect, and develop relationships with other writers.

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A guest post by Yi Shun Lai

The other day my husband fixed our bathroom sink with a video on YouTube, and I read a tutorial on how to build a wall planter.

So I was kind of surprised when I saw someone in an online writer’s community I’m in ask whether or not we thought her MFA program should be teaching her about the business of publishing. I mean, if I can learn rudimentary Spanish from an app, surely this person, who’s paying thousands of dollars to learn how to have a career in the written arts, should expect to learn how to . . . well, have a career.

I guess a little background is due: I’m a writing coach and editor. I’m also a novelist, and I edit nonfiction at a literary magazine. I cut my teeth in the consumer magazine world, and write marketing copy and teach workshops. In short, I make my living with words. I have an MFA myself, from an institution I chose specifically because its faculty comprised working writers, and a certificate in publishing from what is now the Columbia Publishing Course (when I graduated, it was still the Radcliffe Publishing Course). I got much of my writing-business acumen on the job, and when the time came to write and query my novel, I learned almost everything from friends who were literary agents, and, eventually, more timely information from my MFA program.

I’ve noticed a few things that crop up again and again when folks talk about writing and what place business has in it, and where and how you should learn these things. I’ll address them from my point of view below. And I invite you to partake in a conversation about them in the comments. Here we go:

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