The best writers don’t just write — they constantly share what they know and what they’ve learned. Take Seinfeldia author Jennifer Keishin Armstrong, for example, whose blog is a gold mine for aspiring and professional writers alike. Here, we’ve compiled bits of Jennifer’s advice on the craft and business of writing.
While researching for her upcoming book on Sex and the City, Jennifer interviewed Candace Bushnell, author of the series. She was inspired by Candace’s thoughts on point of view — that to be a writer, you need to have your own take.
If you find yourself with “writer’s block,” ask yourself: Why am I here? What am I trying to say? Presumably there’s something; if not, go do something constructive like cooking dinner or going for a run.
Inspired by novelist Michael Grothaus’ journey of quitting his six-figure tech job to write a book, Jennifer comments on the risks that professional writers take every day:
I love my freelance writer life and the control it gives me over my days . . . . But walking away from a steady paycheck is a risk. Writing something and just hoping someone will pay you for it someday is a risk. Writing something and publishing it is a risk, and neither the comments sections nor the critics will let you forget it.
Real writers’ main job requirement isn’t writing. To get to the writing, and to get it out there, they must take constant risks.
In a post about the freelance life, payment, and exposure, Jennifer urges that we need to pay skilled people in money:
As a freelance writer, I get my share of sneaky requests for me to do stuff for free. Some of these make sense: appear on a podcast I admire to promote a recent piece I wrote and my upcoming book, help a talented friend with a promising book proposal. Now, I’m not saying everything I do must include some clear payoff for me and only me. I’m not even saying that you can’t ask me to do something out of the goodness of my heart. But more than anyone else, freelancers in the arts must set boundaries.
“If you want to get paid for your writing,” she writes, “the marketing never ends.” Here, Jennifer talks about writers as marketers, and the constant need to get out there and promote your work:
Most of us just want to create, quietly, at our little computer screens. We don’t, and can’t, magically morph into salespeople. If you haven’t noticed, salespeople are often the personality inverse of many writers. Writing requires a kind of intense introversion: observing, quietly typing and retyping. Sales requires a kind of extroversion: talking to others to get them to see things your way, then hand over some money. We want to stay in our artiste bubble. We know our ideas are good. Why do we need to sell them to other people?
We don’t, unless we want to make money. That’s something many of us do want to do.
Read more tips and insights on writing on her blog: