For many, the question evokes images of hip cafe typing sessions, romantic Parisian writing trips, or sleepless nights in idyllic northern cabins. Others think only of the rewards—being an author, they believe, is simple as writing a book and then sitting back as it goes blockbuster. Next thing they know, they’re Veronica Roth on the red carpet at the Divergent premier—dress-train carriers in tow.
The reality however is far less glamorous. Writing takes a tremendous amount of discipline and sacrifice. To cut through the cliché and learn more about what it really means to live a writer’s life we spoke with with Scott Nicholson, a top-selling KWL author specializing in supernatural/ psychological thrillers a la Stephen King and Dean Koontz.
Below is our interview with the prolific Appalachian storyteller.
1. Describe your writer’s life? How do you balance writing with everything else? I’ve always been creative, so it’s just part of life for me. My other passions are gardening, music, and water sports, so those all feed into the type of mindset that helps me focus when necessary. I’ve always been a dreamer, so it fits pretty naturally.
2. What the best advice for someone who wants to be a writer? What discipline, what sacrifices are required? I think writing is nothing more than persistence. It helps to have some talent, but passion is more valuable, especially over the long run. I look around at the writers I know who have “made it” and all of them stuck with it at least ten years, even when it looked like a fairly hopeless pursuit.
3. One agent suggests a good writer should find a job they love, because they’re going to be doing it for a long time. Realistically what can an emerging or starting author expect in terms of payment, advances, sales? This all depends on where you are on your personal writing journey. Most of what looks like my success now came from my 800 rejection slips and the endurance to outlast everyone who ever told me “No.” I knew the door would open if I kept banging. Trouble is, sometimes you have to knock with your head.
4. How many books does it take to break through, if you’re a genre writer? The rule of thumb is three, but so much depends on whether you are writing a series, whether you are a savvy marketer, and how polished your first book is. There have been plenty of one-hit wonders and just as many folks who write 20 books and still can’t find any readers. The important thing is to jump in and go for it, and be open to learning along the way.
5. How do you stay productive as a writer? Do you have specific targets you try to hit (re: word count, chapters, ideas) every day/week/month? I have general deadlines I impose upon myself. Oddly, one trick that works is I buy a bunch of advertising for a certain specific time frame, and then that becomes my deadline. If you self-publish, you really have to manage the entire factory, from concept to production to sales. If you keep setting goals that seem just out of reach, you should be able to stay plenty busy.
6. How do you escape from writing when you need a break? The Internet is always just a click away. But that can also be a sinkhole. I live a rural lifestyle in the remote Appalachian Mountains, so all I have to do is step out the door to make the publishing world disappear.
7. Ultimately, why do you write? Because I’m too dumb to quit. I think it takes a specific set of mental illnesses to be a writer for the long haul. You have to be egomaniacal enough to think your thoughts matter and that people are willing to pay for them, and also humble enough to realize you have plenty of room for improvement at all times.
You can also find Scott on:
On Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authorscottnicholson
On Twitter: https://twitter.com/eScottNicholson
And Pintrest: https://www.pinterest.com/escottnicholson/