Everybody’s Doing It: So You Think You Want to be a Writer?

mm Bill Pace

A commonly quoted statistic is that 87% of Americans want to write a book of some sort. Everybody thinks “I’ve got a book in me.” But, of course, most don’t. Well, maybe they do, but somehow the book never gets out.In fact, only a handful actually start that book, an even smaller number finish that book, and an even smaller number actually have that book published.

So, let’s do the math. If 87% of us want to write a book, that’s 250 million people. Ten percent, or 25 million, will actually start one. Two percent of those who start a book, or around 500,000, actually finish and publish their book (mostly via self-publishing these days).

So what? That’s not a lot of people getting their news and views out. It turns out (obviously) that there are lots of other ways to express yourself besides books: newspapers, magazines, diaries, letters, reports, and academic journals (to name a few) have been around and read for centuries. These are important (and accessible) media forms for most of us.

But more recently, new, world-changing channels for writing have taken off. Seed Magazine estimates that blog authors, Facebook authors, and Twitter authors each have already surpassed book authors in numbers. Moreover, each of those media channels are growing at astronomical rates.

So maybe that book in you might find its way to daylight and unto the local library’s shelf. Probably not. But, if you have something to say, you might be better served by picking one of the newer media forms and start expressing your views in real time to real audiences on topics of real importance.

By getting your word out, you’ll be building your network and building your brand in ways that can help you build your reputation as a writer of note. And that process can lead to all kinds of possibilities for your career. You can… if you… just do it.

Bill Pace is Managing Director of ClearlyNext, a guided online career program that helps people of all backgrounds and incomes figure out what to do next. Read more >