"So you want to be a [writer], kid; well, whoop-de-do . . ."
I got this quote from Danny Devito's character Phil in Disney's Hercules. He was pretty sarcastic to poor young Hercules because he'd been disillusioned about training heroes only to see them fall in battle too early.
People who don't write or can't write have often told me that I can't make a living on writing stories, but I think they're either too afraid to try or too lazy. Writing for a living takes just as much work as a traditional job, except a traditional job hires you on the premise that you'll be productive for the "company", while writing requires you to have something produced before you get hired. That's tough, and it doesn't help if everyone is telling you, "You'll never make it" or "You can't make a living on writing; be a doctor or a lawyer." My father-in-law recently sent my husband a whole bunch of "work-from-home" links because he doesn't really think I have a job and with the state of the economy, he's worried we're struggling. *eye-roll*
Writing takes a few things to make it successful. It takes determination and persistence; it takes practice, practice, practice; it takes unflagging desire. It also takes encouragement. Because writing tends to be a solitary exercise and humans are essentially herd-animals, we do best when we're around others like us and can share ideas or methods to improve our craft.
Writing groups are essential to being a successful writer. This is my opinion, of course, but even electricians or doctors have mentors or "masters" from whom they learn the methods and tricks to their trades. Writing groups are full of all levels of writers, some who are very successful, some still learning to break into the publishing world. You can learn from all of them!
I'm part of two local writing groups: Las Vegas Writer's Group (http://www.meetup.com/Las-Vegas-Writers/) and Las Vegas Romance Writers (http://www.lvrw.org/lvrw/index.htm). Both groups have been invaluable to the improvement of my writing (very special thanks to my friend Susanne for introducing me to LVWG!). Not only was I introduced to other writers in my local area, but I started learning the serious and practical aspects of the writing world through them.
This weekend I attended the LVRW meeting and met successful writer Kris Tualla from the Phoenix RWA chapter (http://www.desertroserwa.org/). She was a wonderful speaker, but she also had a lot of great information on the new trends in publishing. She gave us suggestions on how to make our works profitable and noticeable in the glutted market of e-publishing. She also told us that Romance Writers of America is a great organization for helping writers, particularly romance writers, find agents, publishers, editors and mentors. And the romance writers want to help new writers get out there and published. There isn't a competition in this group. Just because she gets published, doesn't mean you won't and vice versa. The masters are there to help and encourage you in your efforts; take advantage of them.
Kris said she was a part of two or three writing groups. I'm a part of two in my city, but there are more than that in each place and you can join them. With the romance writing groups, you usually have to be a member of the national organization, RWA, as well as the local chapter. There are fees, but they are worth it and, if you're serious about being a writer, the costs are small compared to the benefits.
"So you want to be a [writer], kid; well, good for you!" Go forth; join one of these groups, and prosper! Learn from the masters and may we find your stories not only on the net, but also on the bookstore shelves! :)