Stages of a Writer Career by Vivienne Lynge

Good Morning Scriblers!  Happy Saturday – Vivienne Lynge here.  As something between an apprentice and a journeyman, I wanted to explore the stages in a successful writer’s career as I understand them from my current place.   Let’s assume a writer’s career follows the decades of life. 

Your first “decade” is all about aspirations – dreaming of writing, wondering if you have it in you to do it and perhaps even taking those first steps and writing some stuff.  When you look back on this stuff later on, you might cringe at its naivety, but you see some deeply-buried raw talent. 

From “age” 10-20 it’s about honing your skills, learning a bit of writing craft, exploring your genre options and reading – a lot of reading.  What’s out there, what works, why does it work?  Dissecting and studying the work of others and beginning to develop your voice. 

In your “20’s”, you’re starting to gain confidence in your writing skills – taking some risks and putting yourself out there.  You meet like minded people and go to a local writer’s conference or two.  You’re learning about the business of writing and publishing.

As you move into your 30’s, you begin to take things seriously.  You’re developing a career plan, networking, joining a professional writing group, going to bigger and probably better conferences.  And writing, always writing.  Maybe you are on the contest circuit – pitting yourself against others to see where you land.  You are actively seeking publication and perhaps representation by an agent.  You feel like you are on the cusp of something.

Ahhh, the 40’s – the decade when you finally feel like you’ve arrived.  You’ve got a contract and a couple/few books out there.  You’re a midlist author!  Wahooooo!  You are speaking at conferences, offering your experiences to newb’s in their 20’s, just starting out.  Maybe you are starting to feel some love from your publisher.  You might be getting recognition from some of the big contests, the Edgar, the Rita, a Newberry award.

The 50’s dawn – you are doing well!  You see your name on that most sought after list of all – the New York Times Bestseller list!  Could there be a movie deal in your future?  Better yet – HBO is considering your series for their next show, now that True Blood has run it’s course and Charlaine Harris hasn’t started a new series.  You are a frontlist author.  Nice job!

The golden years – from your 60’s onward, you write what you want, when you want.  You’ve gotten the rights back to your backlist, you are Indie Publishing them and laughing all the way to the bank.  You are a veteran author now.  Maybe you headline at conferences and give keynote speeches.  You’ve got a line a mile long at the occasional book signing and are firmly established in the zeitgeist. 

So, where am I in this writer’s life?  I’m in my 30’s.  I’m on the cusp of something – I can feel it.  It’s exciting!  Where are you?  Are you happy with your “age”?  What steps do you need to take to get to the place you want to be?


2 thoughts on “Stages of a Writer Career by Vivienne Lynge”

  1. This is so great, Viv! I love the analogy and you are spot on with your assessment of “the path”. I fit squarely in the 40’s which is ironic being that I’m in my 40’s. I often get stuck in the here and now and find it difficult to see that there will be a progression to my trajectory. It seems like being a “mid-list” self-pubber is where I will remain, spinning my wheels and frustrated over not being able to write fast enough to gain traction in the over crowded marketplace, but your post makes me believe that there is so much more ahead! Thanks for the reminder, girlfriend!

  2. Loved this comparison, Viv! Spot on, and explained in such a quirky and fun manner. 🙂

    I’m in career 40’s, as you put it here. Still in the early days of this decade, but have gotten there and learning to be my own writer as I’m learning to be my own woman in real life.

    Like PJ said above, you posts reminds us that there is so much more to look forward to, and that is a breath of hope and faith all authors badly need on any given day!


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