May 052014
 

I want to become a full time author
A call to arms, if you will.

How many times have we wondered how much of it is luck? Well, my newest stance on that is “Who the heck cares!” Take a cue from Peter Dinklage’s recent quote on luck. If you aren’t putting in the sweat and tears to make it happen, you will need a whole hell of a lot of luck, and even that may not save you.

Instead let’s hope to be fortunate. The saying goes “Fortune favors the bold,” and I have recently seen that to be true first hand. Am I the most fortunate person in the world? Of course not, and I’m certainly not the luckiest. However, I recently accepted an amazing job that is right in line with my passion for writing. I am now a video game writer for Telltale Games.

POSTURE YOURSELF

I wanted to write today to share with you what I did that I believe helped put me in the right place at the right time. Some of you may not want to write for video games, but I hope my advice is useful for all writers in search of a full-time job that uses your passion for writing.

  1. It’s all about the craft. Well, it isn’t, but if you don’t focus on making your craft as good as you can, no one is going to hire you. Perhaps my interviewers didn’t think my writing was perfect, but they could tell (it would seem) that I am dedicated to improving the craft, have already put in many hours of writing and learning, and will continue to be passionate about improving my craft. Take classes, attend workshops, start a critique group, and maybe get a certificate or degree in writing. Hey, here’s an idea – start a blog about writing! I am certain all of this helped in my case. In the end it always comes down to craft.
  1. Put yourself out there. Networking should come into play, but only if you are spending the most time you possibly can on craft. If you are out there meeting folks all the time and saying what a great writer you are, but you aren’t writing… you aren’t a writer. Instead, go home and write. But if you are passionate about writing and ready for that next step, get out there and meet people. Attend the San Francisco Writers Conference, the Austin Film Festival, a Writers Guild Foundation event, or maybe an event at a local university on writing? You can read more about these events and others on my other blog, www.BayAreaScreenwriters.com. Meet people and discuss your interests and passions. And of course it doesn’t have to stop there – meet people in great forums like Done Deal Pro or even on LinkedIn. I’m not sure that networking helped me to get this job, but I know it helped me meet people that gave me advice about getting the job for sure, and if I hadn’t met them it would not likely have happened. So go out there and meet people (but only after and while writing a lot). Hey, Ashley Miller (Thor; X-Men First Class, etc.) met his writing partner at an online forum. Maybe you will too?
  1. Make sure people can find you. By this I mean that you don’t want to be the one always trying to connect, so make sure others can find you online. Build a website that lists what you are working on and maybe include a writing resume. Update your LinkedIn profile to cater to what you want to do. About six months ago I did this and made it all about writing and entertainment (I included my acting and storyboarding as well).
  1. Build some credibility. I advise doing whatever you can to build up your resume and LinkedIn profile. Some writers will say that none of that matters, because it is all about the writing. But guess what? A lot of those some writers won’t look at what you’ve written if you have nothing to your name, but when you say you’ve interned at Benderspink (on the screenwriting side) or Folio Literary Management (on the Fiction side), they may consider you in a different light. Likewise if you are trying to reach out to people on LinkedIn. You are never too old or too busy to pursue new passions. With a job, working on my second masters, and with a 16 month old daughter, I did an internship and it was an amazing experience. Just look up what internships will allow you to do it remotely and assess for yourself how many hours a week you think it will take. You may even learn something. Other opportunities include reading for contests like the Austin Film Festival screenplay contest, or reading for local literary magazines. If you live in the Bay Area, check out Zoetrope’s All Story literary magazine. Get out there and explore your opportunities.

CONCLUSION

My main points are that you have to do the following:

  • Learn how to write
  • Practice your craft
  • Network through conferences and whatnot
  • Network online
  • Build up your resume
  • Show off your resume via LinkedIn and other avenues
  • Continue to learn through reading and possibly internships

There is a whole lot more you can do, but for now I hope this helps you to get started. Now stop sitting around reading blogs and see what’s next on your list for ensuring you are in the right place at the right time. Good luck!

Do any of you have advice for writers looking to posture themselves as full time writers?

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I studied fiction in the MA in writing program at Johns Hopkins and interned with Folio Literary Management and “The Doctor T.J. Eckleburg Review.” I have published short stories and poetry, as listed on www.JustinMSloan.com, and am a writer for Telltale Games. If you would like to keep in touch: Twitter @JustinMSloan Facebook at www.Facebook.com/Justin-M-Sloan www.linkedin.com/in/justinmsloan/

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