Last week, I decided to write a story a day and I’m going to try to do it again this week.
As a form of public record (and another reminder to myself), I wanted to clarify some points about why I've decided to do this.
Also, at the very end, I’ve shared a few things I’ve learned over the past week.
For a while, I feel like I’ve been spiralling into a hole.
A year and a half ago, I was riding high. My writing partner and I were still seeing success from the release of our third book, I was the writer-in-residence at the Regina Public Library, and I was teaching scriptwriting at the university. Unfortunately, once both of my contracts finished up, I was looking for a way to make an income.
I decided to set out on my own, setting up a website where I’d help others with their writing through blog posts, creating courses, and doing one-on-one help, while I also wrote some of my own stuff on the side.
Unfortunately, I failed big time.
I wasn’t good at promoting it or implementing it, and I never wrote a thing. Added to all this, my writing partner and I were struggling to finish our fourth book and I knew that it was because of me.
My output had slowed to a crawl, which lead to a downward spiral of guilt, stress, and worry—not only because I wasn’t writing, but I also wasn’t bringing in money to the family household.
Now, my wife is amazing and she has helped support my writing career. She has always encouraged me to pursue my passion, while also acting as the main source of income for the house. But at some point, I knew I couldn’t continue doing this to her.
So last week, while my wife and I travelled up north to open the family cabin for the year, we discussed how much longer I could chase my dream before I put writing on the back-burner and searched for a more financially stable job.
Now, I’m not sure if she said it or I said it, but somewhere along the line, I got it in my head that I had one more year.
What do I do?
Now, I’ve been an independent creator for a while. I have nothing against traditional publishing—but I love the DIY mentality of self-publishing.
Unfortunately, for the vast majority of writers (both traditional or self-published), this isn’t a very good full-time job.
There are plenty of reasons: books don’t always sell, everyone’s margins are thin, and not everyone wants to pay you for your work. Even as an independent creator, it costs money to be on a platform, and when you’re in the long tail, it can be hard to make a sustainable living.
On top of all this, being a writer doesn’t only mean writing, but also marketing, which can be the hardest part. There aren’t as many resources to go around, and the marketplace is crowded with everyone wanting their piece of the pie. Added to this, some companies take advantage of their creators—and it can get pretty exhausting.
Discovering the obvious
For a long time, I’ve been drawn to the siren song of the Creator Economy. It’s the heart and soul of self-publishing: making content that is paid for directly by the customer.
But this isn’t just Amazon, but every craftsperson, streamer, filmmaker, journalist...the list goes on. And the temptation is that as long as you have 1000 true fans, you should be able to make a living.
The trouble was I wasn’t good at it.
Sure, we've seen some success with our books, but writing them took time and between each release, I needed to bring in some sort of money. I tried to do it through teaching, but I never found success because of one simple reason: I was never passionate about it. I never did the hard work like when I was writing and selling books, so I failed.
And it wasn’t until last week, on the trip to the cabin that I realized the most obvious thing in the world: I should just write fiction daily and share it with the world.
And because it was obvious, I can’t stress how much it felt like the right path.
Why not make people pay for my content?
One big choice I made was not to paywall the stories. I wanted anyone to be able to read them.
It comes down to discoverability. If you read it and like my writing, you may read some more. Hell, you might even read one of my books.
But I also wanted to leave an option for people to support me—like a patron or donor. And I wanted those donors to help open up the rest of the content to others by unlocking the commons.
At some point, members are going to get other benefits like discounts, but it’s all wishful thinking at the moment.
The big leap
For me, the scariest part about sharing my passion was just doing it. People may not like it, they may hate it, they may make fun of me...
But they also may love it.
And that’s the gamble. That’s a part of the great game of the internet. And I don’t know unless I play.
So, when I posted my very first story last week, I didn’t know I was going to do it until a few minutes before I did it. I knew it wasn’t very good, but if I wanted to be a part of the creator economy, I needed to create content and share it with the world.
And then I needed to do it again and again and again.
So what have I learned over this week
- It’s still scary as hell. Every day, I have to come up with a story and figure it out before the end of the day. Some days last week, I didn’t have anything until after supper. And yet, I always pull through.
- I’ve eased up on my rules about the word count. If the story is only six words, then I’ll allow it (although, that feels like cheating at the moment), and if it’s 750+, then bravo, because I usually run out of steam long before I get there.
- Also, I don’t need to start fresh each day. If I have a world or characters that I love, I want to go back to them. I’d love to do a serialized story over a week or months or spend the time discovering all the edges of a world. That’s a part of the adventure.
- I still need to promote it. Without promotion, I don’t get readers, and without readers, I can’t get members. I haven’t gone to Twitter yet, but after I publish this article, I probably will share it.
- I still don’t know if I can keep this up, either because of stamina or financial. I worry that one day the inspiration won’t be there and I’ll be screwed, but I know this is unfounded. The real issue comes back to why I took this journey in the first place. If I can’t make this a financially viable option, then I need to move on.
So, if you made it all the way down here to the end, thank you for reading. Hopefully, it clarified some points, answered some questions, and gave you some guidance.
Of course, if you liked it and want to help me along my journey, please subscribe to my newsletter or, even better, become a paid member.
Either way, if you came here as a reader or someone considering this path for yourself, I hope you have a great day.