I got my dander up at a Facebook post referencing an article that lamented the difficulty most writers have making a living writing full-time. I've seen a lot of writers come and go in my career and the ones who make a good living have three qualities in common:
- They ditch the romanticism about "being a writer" and learn to love whatever they are writing that pays the bills. So many of the failed writers I see are failed novelists; they can't conceive of doing any other kind of writing. But there are dozens of different types of writing that can yield a paycheck. If you cry, "But the only kind of writer I want to be is a novelist!", then good luck to you, but very few writers make a living doing that.
- They're versatile. They write travel articles. They edit. They ghostwrite. They write ad copy. They write speeches. They develop chops at all of the above and more so that when the well runs dry in the kind of writing they love, they have a way to keep the lights on until things pick up.
- They build a professional network. A lot of amateur writers limit their circle to the members of their writer's group. Writer's groups are okay, but if you want to write for a living you need something more. You need a network of agents, editors, published authors, journalists, creative directors—anyone you can connect with who's in the writing business. Not only will they become your best source of work, but your best source of feedback and information about the biz.