You have to write. Every day. You have to study your craft. You have to be a lifelong learner. You have to also be a proofreader, editor, project manager, blogger, social media marketer, public relations professional, and more.
There are no shortcuts.
Writing is central. It is the foundation. None of the other stuff matters if you don't write.
You don't have to take every piece of advice you get, but some advice you get may be helpful. But a lot won't. I've found this career to be isolating (somewhat of an introvert's dream), sometimes condemning, and dang right character-building, and I don't mean the fictional kind.
But, I love it. Oh, how I love it. There's really nothing like writing.
It took me nine years to publish my first book. During this time I was working full time, raising a family, but still writing and submitting my stuff. I don't know many people who do this full time and don't work elsewhere, not at first anyway. Therefore, it couldn't be a full-time focus for me. Yet, there are people who will see you publish and automatically think it must be easy.
It wasn't easy. It's not easy. Even after publishing, it's not easy.
Writers don't do it because it's easy. They do it because they love it and are willing to put in the time and effort required to make it happen.
I worked at it. I got better and better. I had close calls. I had disappointments. I got out of my comfort zone. I went to conferences. I read. I asked questions. But the most important thing I did was write.
I read this on Anne Rice's website, and yes. OMG. Yes. Yes. Yes. It's from 2009, but it is on point from then until the end of time.
I wrote the books I want to read but couldn't find. I ignored rules, which took me longer to publish, but I did publish because I kept on writing -- what I wanted to read. I ignored advice that said to discard those first few books and start over. No. If you invest that much time into characters you love, don't discard them or that writing.
Just write. Write. And keep on writing.