Building A Writing Career Is Like Building A House

You can’t skip steps if you want to sleep in a comfy bed

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Building a house involves finding a good plot of land, designing the house, laying the foundations, building the structure, and installing electrics and plumbing. Even once that is done there is still other work to do. You need to decorate internally and externally, buy furniture, and tidy up the garden.

Only when it’s complete you can lie down on your comfy bed and have a good night’s sleep.

But even then, you still have to plan for ongoing maintenance.

This is exactly how I see my writing career developing.

Finding a good plot of land

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When choosing a plot of land to build a house you need to take into account the cost and location. Not all plots of land will suit your needs and your way of life.

It’s the same with choosing where to write. Being a war correspondent is totally different from writing in your underwear from the comfort of your own home.

I have chosen this platform, as it suits me perfectly. As you’re here, I assume you’ve also chosen this platform, although you may have chosen others as well. Maybe you’re building 2 or 3 houses at the same time.

I’m only capable of building one house at a time. I may build another one once this one is complete.

When choosing where to write, make sure you choose somewhere that suits you. If you love writing about finance, there’s no point in applying for a job at a sports magazine. Not all online writing platforms are the same. Some topics do better on some platforms than on others. Choose wisely.

Don’t choose the sports magazine and then complain that no one is reading your awesome finance posts.

Laying the foundations

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This is where I see many writers giving up. They chose a great platform to write on and laid some very solid foundations. It’s all looking great and going to plan. Then they give up because they can’t sleep in the comfy bed.

I’m giving up because I only earned $23.37 last month” is the equivalent of saying “I’ve already spent $100,000 on the plot of land and foundations but still can’t sleep in my bed”.

You may have earned $23.37, but so far you’ve only chosen the plot and built the foundations. Don’t expect too much too soon.

Building the structure

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This is the core part of the job. Laying brick after brick after brick sounds like it could be hard work. It is. But if you want your house built you just have to knuckle down, put the work in, and get the job done.

It’s the same with writing. Each article is a brick in your structure. It’s time to do the work. One brick at a time.

How long it takes to build your house depends on how quickly you can lay those bricks. If you’re doing the work yourself, it also depends on what other commitments you may have.

If you can work for 7 days a week laying bricks, your house will get built quickly. If you have a full-time job and can only lay bricks on the weekend, your house will take much longer to build. If you can lay a few extra bricks early morning or evening, then you’ll speed up the process.

I’ve seen quite a few articles from successful writers that say they wrote around 300 articles before they started earning decent money.

If you write an article a day, it will take you around 10 months to reach 300 articles. If you can write 2 a day, you cut that time down to 5 months. If you can only write 2 articles a week, it’s going to take you around 3 years.

I expect to get to 300 articles during month 7.

If you can’t write regularly you’ll probably find a writing career to be very tough. Only you can decide whether it’s worth it.

300 articles is only a very rough guide. Some writers may earn a decent income after 100 articles, while others may need to write 500 or more. Don’t get caught up with thinking of exact numbers.

Installing electrics and plumbing

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Once the main structure of the house is built, you next have to install the electrics and plumbing.

I equate this to building social media accounts that link to your main platform and sharing your work with a wider audience.

With writing, you can do this alongside building the structure. I’ve decided to leave this part until later. Building the main structure is more important to me right now. It helps me feel like I’m making progress more quickly, and that’s a huge motivator.

Decorating, installing furniture, and tidying up the garden

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At this point, the house is functional. All you need to do now is add the finishing touches.

With writing, this might mean making your profile look better, integrating other accounts more efficiently, and setting up lists.

Ongoing maintenance

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Even when your house is finished, you still need to plan for ongoing maintenance. The house needs to be cleaned regularly, the garden needs to be tended to, appliances need to be fixed, and many other minor issues need your attention.

And so it is with writing. You still need to lay those bricks, although you might be able to ease off a little. There are also likely to be various issues that crop up that need fixing.

Do you want a mansion or a studio condo

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The top writers have careers that are the equivalent of mansions. They keep laying brick after brick for many years, often decades.

Others do the bare minimum of work and end up living in the writer’s equivalent of a studio condo.

It’s up to you to choose what you want to build. You should also bear in mind that not everyone is capable of or even wants to build a mansion. Do what makes you happy.

Don’t give up

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio

If you’re at the stage where you’ve already built a solid foundation, now is not the time to give up. Start laying those bricks. Use good quality bricks, not some low-quality bricks that will quickly crumble away.

Build a house that you can be proud of. Don’t take shortcuts just to save time — you’ll end up regretting it later.

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