By Guest Author
Posted April 24, 2012
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by NL Cobb
In 2007, I tried my hand at writing web fiction.
I started writing the now defunct web fiction It’s All Relative. I tried to write this story repeatedly but kept getting stuck, until eventually it fell by the wayside as life and work and school took over.
Ever since It’s All Relative went completely dead in 2009, I’ve been dying to get back into web fiction, but life has been crazy. Yet my time spent trying to get back into the web fiction world has given me some insight into how to find some balance between the whole work, life, and writing thing. This post was supposed to be about possibly finding that balance, but clearly I have yet to find it–I’m thick in the trenches trying to finish up projects and still having trouble maintaining that balance.
However, if there is one thing I have learned over the years, it is that web fiction is like an (unpaid) intership.
Web fiction gives you valuable experience. You might be doing all the hard work and being underpaid (or unpaid), but when it’s time to either pursue legacy/traditional or self/indie publishing (I see web fiction as a subset of the latter), you’ll have all the experience of marketing your story, building a community, and all the lovely things that come with being an author. One day writing might be your main bacon bringer, so having something to put on your writing resume like cultivating a popular web fiction and building a community might be something that your future publisher may look for.
Web fiction teaches you to build a community. Building a community is essentially like networking with people in the business. This can be from coworkers (other writers) or your boss (which would probably be your audience in this case). Building up rapport with the people you come into contact with can be a great way to breath life into an internship.
Sometimes interships can be grueling. You’re busy making copies and making coffee, isolated from the people who actually work at the company. Writing can be the same way. You can be isolated in your room while you are writing a brillant scene, rarely seeing your friends and family. Making personal connections draws people to your story and great writing and stories keeps them reading. Making connections means to have conversations with them.
Don’t be a spammer. That’s like the annoying butt kissing intern whose sole purpose to get a job and nothing more. Being a butt kisser is not only annoying; trying to please people–or in the web fiction case, trying to get page views–can burn you out. It’s not about how many business cards you’ve got, but who those business cards belong too. In a web fiction sense, it’s not about how many page views you have, but who is staying with the story, the true fan.
An internship is what you make of it. If there is nothing for you to do, don’t spend your time goofing off, ranting to friends about how little work you get to do and at the same time bemoaning the fact that you aren’t being paid enough. Take the initiative and take on more work. Posted chapter 1 of your web fiction? Start writing chapters 2 and 3, maybe even start outlining the rest of the series.
If you set a standard to learn everything you can about what you are doing, you’ll transfer those skills to other things, whether you want to find another job in the field (go the traditional or indie route) or get a full-time position with your current company (make a living out of web fiction).
So the next time you’re struggling with your writing, remember: you’re not alone. Set some standards, and work towards them, because the more effort you put in, the more you will benefit. And if you find that magic formula for balancing work, life, and writing, let me know. It’s muddy in the trenches.
NL Cobb is a graduate of UC Riverside with a degree in Psychology and Creative Writing. She is currently working on finishing the first a graphic novel retelling of Beauty and the Beast, trying to resurrect her defunct webfiction It’s All Relative and turn it into a graphic novel, as well as a host of other projects in the works. To follow her exploits, like her page on facebook or read her (currently empty, but not for long) blog at nlcobb.wordpress.com.
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