Too often, well meaning people discourage writers from "thinking big," or getting too big for our britches. They want to protect us from disappointment, but what they are really doing is crushing our inspiration and motivation.
I want writers to get clear on what "thinking big" means to you (bestseller? award winner? literary journal renown? mid-list lifestyler?) and embrace it! Doesn't matter if you don't "make it" or not, what matters is creating the kind of life as a writer that you want to live!
As mentioned in this podcast, here is the link to my freebie booklet, Write to Market!...or Not?
It's KimBoo, and welcome back to the Author Alchemist podcast! Today were going to be talking about, or I'm going to be talking about, thinking big, which may or may not be exactly the kind of thinking big that you're thinking about. So hang in there with me and let's talk about motivation, aspirations, and creativity!
I'm KimBoo, the host of the Author Alchemist podcast. I'm bringing my years of experience as a fan fiction writer and a professionally published author to the problem we all love to hate: the act of writing. You can't improve on something that doesn't exist, which means the most important thing you can do is simply write. Anything. Just write something. I'm here to help.
So here we are, and if you listen to the intro, I am going to be talking about thinking big. One of the reasons I want to talk about it is because too often authors are discouraged from thinking big. There is very good reason for that in the sense of just hitting a bestseller list or becoming the next incredibly popular author is a gamble. It's a gamble because there's so many variables, and if it was possible to, like, make a spreadsheet to become a world famous best-selling author whose books are optioned to be made into movies and you're beloved by all your fans, then the traditional publishing industry would have discovered that formula a long time ago. They are still looking for that formula, actually. As are a lot of independent writers, I mean, that is the goal for some people. That's not to say that that's a bad goal but it's like aiming for the Olympics. You've got to not only just work your ass off, but you have to hope that a lot of things that are basically down to luck, fall into place for you, including not getting injured, having the money to pursue the training that you need. Yada yada yada. The Olympic metaphor. You kinda get what I'm talking about here. So the important thing is that you understand that a lot of time some of those types of goals are, I don't know how to say exactly but had weighted on things that are out of your control. You can only do your best and move forward. The people who are around writers take that information and, well, you know leverage it as a weapon. I think often times they do so from the goodness of their heart. They don't want to see someone they care about be disappointed because the book didn't become a bestseller, because their writing career never really takes off in the way that they dream about. Fair enough. I don't want to see people I love get hurt either right?
But the damage of holding writers back from dreaming big is profound. I think it affects motivation more than almost any other thing a writer can come across. The idea that you're not allowed to have dreams or goals or aspirations because you might be disappointed down the line at some point is...just honestly when you look at it on the surface, when you when you read the label and packaging on that, you realize some yeah that's that's not how you go about this, in any way shape or form. This is not how you go about supporting someone is trying to write, including yourself. Remember you are your biggest supporter.
Of course it's easy to talk about dreaming bed when you're talking about a specific project. You have a book that you're dreaming big about, you either have big plans for the book or the book itself requires big plans if it's a epic fantasy series or, you know, a multi generational literary epic. There is a lot of dreaming big has to go into projects like that. Maybe it's a short story or novella, but you want to dream big and get it into a prestigious literary journal like Granta. It's easy for us as writers to focus those dream big aspirations on a specific story with very specific parameters, and even that if your goal is to be traditionally published can lead to a lot of disappointment along the way, but yet you got it going a certain direction right? So you have your story and you're dreaming big for that story. I want to encourage you to dream big for yourself as a writer. I am here, KimBoo York, the Author Alchemist to give you permission to dream big whatever shape that dreaming big takes for you it might be best-selling world-renowned author. It might be respected author with many awards to your name, sitting on your mantle at home. It might be the type of author who, like Nora Roberts, is just revered in her genre, even if those outside of her genre may or may not have ever heard of her. I mean, Nora Roberts, they probably have, but you understand what I'm getting at. There is, like there are probably people out there who've been through bookstores and yet still don't know who Nora Roberts is because those are not the kind books they read. So that's a valid goal. Best-selling fantasy author...Okay, everybody is thinking of Brian Sanderson and his KickStarter. Yes, I get it. And hey, maybe that's your dream as well. Legendary kick starter. Why not? Go for it?
My dream if you're wondering, is to basically support myself in the lifestyle to which I become accustomed. Which is pretty modest, honestly. I would love to get to the point where I can pay off my student loans, and by house or buy some property, I could build a house. I want a house! But mostly because I want dogs, I want more dogs, and I need a yard for that. So that's where the house idea comes from, mostly for the dogs. So for me, the goal is not necessarily fame or renown or awards, but being able to make a solid living independently as an author, which does affect the decisions I make on the stories that I write and how I go about selling them. I am not looking to be traditionally published in the way that most people think about it, where I get an agent, you shop around for an agent for a few years and then have the agent shop around one or two of my books for a few years, eventually get a contract and fight over it a lot so that I get to keep most of my rights, and then wait another few years the book to be published and hope that the publisher actually deigns to budget some money for the marketing of the book. That is actually a very solid path for certain variables in your goals, so, like, if your goal is to be nominated for a lot of words, or to be placed prominently in bookstores or just to be able to say, you know, why my book was published by Penguin or something like that. Then fine, then that's great. Go for that. That's your dreaming big. My dreaming big has different needs. So for me it's about writing, not just stories I love, but stories in specific genres, niche stories in a lot of ways for me. I don't think I'm ever going to write a story that's going to be massively popular along all lines of bestseller lists. That's just not something that's in me, even. But as a self published independent author, I can look to trying to create streams of revenue that help me live the life I want to lead. T though. My goal is is less a literary goal than a lifestyle goal. I want to be able to write the stories that I love and make enough money selling the stories that I love that I can keep writing the stories that I love. It's kind of a feedback loop, if you pick up on that. It is my dream big goal and it's a lot more modest than some other people's big dream goals.
I listen to a lot of entrepreneurial podcasts because I am, at this point, my own business, and the goals there are often very much along the lines of six-figure income, seven-figure income, building up a business so you can sell it for millions of dollars and obviously that's not where I'm at, but what I do appreciate about listening to those podcasts and reading those books and articles and watching those YouTube videos is how much they hammer home the idea that you need to plan for the future you want. And again this is something most authors are discouraged from, because writing and popularity in writing is so variable and unreliable, and yet you never going to get what you don't ask for, right? At least that's what I was always told.
So I'm telling you here now to ask for what you want, not just for specific book but for the life you want to lead as an author and that can be maybe just the prolific fanfiction writer with lots of, you know, fans of your fanfiction. Absolutely valid. The point isn't to weight what you want against what other people want, which is what so often happens when people are advising authors on how to think about the future, but to think about what you really want.
So another different example was a friend of mine on Twitter — fandom friend, I don't know them personally, but we've interacted on Twitter for a while now — and they had an original story that they wanted to put out there, so they were asking for the best platform. My question to them was: what do you want out of it? Do you want people to leave comments and interact with your story and you as the author? Do you just want to get your story in front of his many eyes as possible? And you don't really care about people leaving comments or even making money off of it, you just want people to see it. Or do you want to make money off of it? Do you want to put it somewhere where, when people read it, you might get a couple of cents...now maybe, maybe down the road, a few bucks put in your account, because people like your story? Those questions affect the decision on where that writer should post their story. And for instance if they just want to get it out there to the widest group of people possible, then probably something like Wattpad or Medium, even tumblr still has still has an audience these days, it is a good way to get popular. Get seen, anyway. Those platforms aren't quite as great for direct interaction and comments, right? Nor are they that great for making money. You want to make money off of short stories and novellas, and you're going to have to go to Vella or Radish or Scribd, I think also asked that option or even Patreon, if that's the way you want to go.
When you consider went you want what how you would define dream big, that's going to define a lot of the steps that you take down the road as opposed to people telling you. Oh well, if you want to sell things you need to put it in Kindle Unlimited...and sure yeah, some people have made lots of money putting things in Kindle Unlimited, but there drawbacks that and it may not be satisfying to you. It may not be the thing that you want to do. I always say write what you want to read or write what you love, not necessarily the same thing but generally the same thing... But if you write what you love, it's because you already have a dream in your heart how you want to live as a writer. I am telling you to embrace that. Whatever your long-term goals are right towards them. Don't write in spite of them and don't put writing aside because other people tell you dreams are unrealistic. They are important and they are necessary for you as a writer.
I think it's very important for writers to nourish that small flicker of flame of optimism that lives deep in our hearts, and it does live there because honestly nobody would write anything if there wasn't the optimism of the idea of sharing the story that you finish, that someday when you write that story. You'll get it out there and somebody somewhere will love it so nurish that, nurishe that faint light in the deep dark recesses of your heart, of your creative soul, and nourish, furthermore, the hopes and dreams that you have as a writer down the road. Short-term, medium-term, long-term, think about it for a little while. Think about it and embrace it. Dream big, or hey dream small. Either way, figure out what your dream is and hold onto that. That's fuel for the fire and that'll keep you writing when everybody else tells you: don't quit your day job.
I quit my day job, so you know, it's possible. That was my dream for sure and I'm living it!
Thank you for hanging out with me today. I hope I gave you some encouragement to move forward with your dreams, your big dreams, your small dreams, whatever your dreams as a writer and that gives you motivation to write because as you know, that's what I'm here for.
As usual, I invite you to check my website I store now has a couple of online courses there out from fanfic for writers who try to make the jump from fanfiction into original fiction. I've also got the Author Website Toolkit. If you've already made that jump and are ready to build your author website this is an invaluable tool for you and it's pretty affordable. It's only about $35. And of course you go to my website also there's options for you to sign up for freebies, I have freebies! I'll include a link in the show notes to this for the freebie "Writet to Market...or not?" which people really like, I've gotten some good feedback on that one. So encourage you to check it out if that's a question you're wondering about. Thank you so much. I appreciate you being here with me. Appreciate your trust in me, and I mean that sincerely. There's a lot of advice out there on the web for authors, and if you're listening to what I have to say, then I really appreciate your time. And that's it for this week. Certainly, I need to go follow my own advice and get some writing done.
Thanks for listening to me ramble on about writing here on the Author Alchemist podcast. I'm KimBoo York and I hope this episode has helped clear away the cobwebs from your inspiration. For more podcasts and other tools including self-paced online courses, please visit my website www.authoralchemist.com (no dashes!) Or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org I love to read your questions and feedback! Now, time to get some writing done!