How to Succeed as a Writer in the Digital Age

The Price You Have to Pay

In this newsletter you will get:

  • 7 people whose success in writing inspires you
  • 8 topics you can write about to become a successful writer
  • Five examples of paid jobs using AI and your writing skills
  • How to start a writing career while working a full-time job
  • Writers’ habits for networking, and marketing
  • Habits to overcome for writing success

Whether you’re publishing on LinkedIn or working on a novel or non-fiction book: Achieve anything you want. Is possible. For everyone. For you. Write!

Whether you have a job. And need a second income. Or you are looking for a new one. Writing is ideal.

But: you need to pay. The price for your success. There are rules. You have to give before you get. That sounds like a deal. And it is.

A deal with yourself. A promise you make to yourself: I will write about this every day. And I will write until I can live from it. And beyond. Because I love to write! Because I love helping others by giving advise! Because I like to entertain others!

You are willing to give the most valuable thing you own. And in return you get what you so desperately want.

What is the most valuable thing? I guess you know. More later.

Writing is especially ideal for introverts. But not only. You and I accomplish great things. By moving forward at our own pace.

It is a well-trodden path. Many writers have walked it before you and before me. So it’s not witchcraft. It is well known how they did it.

Let yourself be inspired:

Seven examples of prominent people who achieved popularity by writing

Stephen King

  • How he got to writing: Stephen King showed interest in horror and science fiction at an early age. He began writing short stories in school and continued to do so while studying English at the University of Maine.
  • Why he writes: King writes to entertain and explore the human psyche, often using horror as a vehicle to do so.
  • Time to make a living: It took King a few years after college to make a living from writing, with the success of his first novel, Carrie, in 1974.

    More in his memoir On Writing (2000).

J.K. Rowling

  • How she got to writing: J.K. Rowling began writing stories when she was a child. The idea for Harry Potter came to her during a train ride and she began writing the first book soon after.
  • Why she writes: Rowling writes to create magical worlds and inspire readers of all ages.
  • Time to make a living: Rowling began writing Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone in 1990, but it wasn’t published until 1997. The series’ success allowed her to make a living from writing.

George R.R. Martin

  • How he got to writing: George R.R. Martin was an avid reader and started writing stories in his youth. He earned a degree in journalism and later worked as a college professor before focusing on writing full-time.
  • Why he writes: Martin writes to create complex, realistic worlds and characters, exploring themes of power and human nature.
  • Time to make a living: Martin began his professional writing career in the 1970s, but it wasn’t until the publication of A Game of Thrones in 1996 that he achieved mainstream success.

Elizabeth Gilbert

  • How she got to writing: Elizabeth Gilbert began her writing journey as a journalist and short story writer. She moved into memoir with her breakthrough book, Eat, Pray, Love.
  • Why she writes: Gilbert writes to share her experiences, deliver life lessons, and inspire readers.
  • Time to make a living: It took Gilbert more than a decade to achieve financial success from her writing, with Eat, Pray, Love published in 2006.

Malcolm Gladwell

  • How he got to writing: Malcolm Gladwell started as a journalist, working for The Washington Post and later The New Yorker. He turned to writing books with his debut, The Tipping Point.
  • Why he writes: Gladwell aims to explore social phenomena and human behavior through engaging storytelling.
  • Time to make a living: Gladwell’s first book (The Tipping Point), published in 2000, became a bestseller, allowing him to make a living from writing.

Toni Morrison

  • How she got to writing: Toni Morrison began her career as a book editor. She started writing her first novel, The Bluest Eye, while raising two children as a single mother.
  • Why she writes: Morrison aimed to give voice to the African-American experience and explore themes of identity and race.
  • Time to make a living: It took Morrison several years after the publication of her first novel in 1970 to make a living solely from writing.

Neil Gaiman

  • How he got to writing: Neil Gaiman began his career as a journalist before turning to comic book writing. He gained prominence with his groundbreaking series The Sandman.
  • Why he writes: Gaiman writes to create fantastical worlds, blending mythology, horror, and humor.
  • Time to make a living: Gaiman made a living from writing in the late 1980s, after the success of The Sandman.


  • Doing what you love: Writing and publishing is an evolution over years and decades. Continuity is more important than talent and intelligence.
  • Find your theme and channel and live out the all-too-human urge for variety and distraction in life within your theme and genre.
  • It is irrelevant where you come from and where you live.
  • It is irrelevant whether you are rich or poor.
  • It is irrelevant whether you start writing at the age of 13 or 66. Retirement age is no excuse to sit in front of the television. You have so much to give in terms of life experience and insight.
  • We are all consumers in one way or another. But loving and reading books. And learning from other writers seems to be an important prerequisite not only for success in writing but for success in all professions.
  • The step from being a consumer to becoming a producer is the step from survival to financial security.
  • Either you’ve already found your topic, or you’re picking it out of what readers need and love.
  • And you know what? Compared to all these literary icons, you have a big, big advantage. They started their careers with a running start. Over years and decades.
  • Different times, different rules.
  • All you need is access to the World Wide Web (WWW) and its unlimited possibilities. Recognise the rules behind others’ success. And follow the rules.

Eight topics professional authors write about. And become successful.

  1. Personal development: Readers seek advice on how to improve their lives, develop new skills, and achieve their goals.
  2. Health and wellness: Information on nutrition, exercise, mental health, and holistic living is always in demand.
  3. Technology: As technology advances, readers look for updates, reviews, and explanations of new gadgets and software.
  4. Travel: Travel writing, including destination guides, cultural experiences, and adventure stories, captures the imagination of readers.
  5. Parenting and family: Advice on raising children, navigating family dynamics, and maintaining healthy relationships is always sought-after.
  6. Finance and investing: Readers want to learn about managing money, investing wisely, and achieving financial independence.
  7. Career and business: People seek guidance on advancing their careers, starting businesses, and improving workplace skills.
  8. Food and cooking: Recipes, cooking techniques, and food trends are always popular subjects with readers.

Writing in the days before the World Wide Web was a real challenge. Today it is much easier.

You are not alone.

Artificial intelligence (AI) puts a lot of tools at your fingertips. Many are just a click away. Many are free. Use them. Reid Hoffman, co-founder of Linkedin, recently published a book. With Openai‘s GPT-4 (Generative pre-trained Transformer 4), a language model that can help you, too.

We used to have to learn the language of technology. Now technology is learning our language. And becomes a personal assistant.

Here is the link to the newsletter of Reid Hoffman:

There you get the free download link of the pdf version,too – feel free to subscribe to his newsletter.

Impromptu by Reid Hoffmann with GPT-4

Reid Hoffman was board member of Openai. Maybe a good idea to read his newsletters.

Accept AI as a collaborative tool. It can help you and your company stay competitive and relevant in this increasingly digital world.

GPT-4 is the most promising bet on your personal career future. How to stand out? Learn how to develop applications for it and with it. Write code with the help of GPT-4. Turn your business idea into an app or plugin. Or be content with the AI tools that are rapidly emerging to multiply your creativity and productivity.

Remember the encyclopedia publishers when Wikipedia started? Remember the fate of many book publishers when Amazon offered book publishing for free to authors? AI is such a gamechanger. Not just in one industry, but in all.

Look at every change as a new opportunity, not a problem.

Do you still have statements in the back of your mind from people who are trying to mean well for you?

  • Writing is not a real profession in itself.
  • Writing doesn’t pay the bills.

They are only right until your example shows them they are wrong.

Well, you have gone on a long walk. This will help you.

Five examples of paid jobs using (free) AI and writing skills

  1. Content creation: Use AI tools like GPT-4 to generate ideas, outlines and drafts for articles, blog posts and social media content. Edit and refine content to meet client requirements. The OpenAI API allows you to use models like GPT-3 for free to generate high-quality content for a wide range of topics.
  2. Copywriting: Use AI tools to analyze successful advertising campaigns and generate compelling copy for marketing materials, product descriptions, and email campaigns. Headlime is an AI-powered copywriting tool that uses GPT-3 to help with headlines, ads, product descriptions, and more. Same is Copysmith. It helps create various types of content.
  3. Technical writing: Use AI to research and create documentation, guides, and manuals for software, hardware, or other technical products. AIWriter (one week free trial) is a tool that helps with generating technical content.
  4. Translation: Use AI translation tools to provide accurate translations, while using your writing skills to ensure proper context and tone. DeepL offers a AI-powered translation tool that is known for its high-quality translations. There is a free version with some limitations. New is DeepL Write: Write better, fix grammar and spelling mistakes, set the tone of your text, rephrase entire sentences, express linguistic subtleties.
  5. SEO optimization: Use AI to analyze keyword trends and optimize written content for search engine visibility and ranking. Ubersuggest is an SEO tool that helps with keyword research, content ideas, and website analysis.

Feeling trapped in your bread and butter job? Not to worry. Many authors play it safe and write on the side.

Starting a writing career while working a full-time job

  1. Morning routine: Wake up an hour earlier to dedicate time to writing before starting your workday.
  2. Lunch breaks: Use your lunch break to brainstorm ideas, outline, or write a few paragraphs.
  3. Evening sessions: Set aside an hour or two in the evening to focus on writing, after completing work tasks and personal responsibilities.
  4. Weekend writing: Dedicate a few hours on weekends to write, edit, and submit work to publications or clients.

Well, there are many authors who became famous posthumously. Some examples are Edgar Allan Poe, Franz Kafka, Emily Dickinson … .

So are you afraid that you will not be able to succeed because you have little business sense? This will help you.

Successful Writers’ Habits for Networking and Marketing

  1. Networking:
  • Attend writing conferences, workshops, and events to connect with other writers and professionals in the industry.
  • Engage with writing communities and groups online to share experiences and knowledge.

2. Marketing:

  • Develop a personal brand and online presence to showcase your writing and expertise.
  • Pitch your work to publications, websites, and clients to gain exposure and build a portfolio.

At one point or another, we all feel like we are driving through life with the parking brake on.

Find out what is holding you back. Then overcome it.

Habits to overcome for success in writing

  1. Procrastination: Set deadlines and create a writing schedule to stay focused and productive.
  2. Perfectionism: Accept that first drafts won’t be perfect and embrace the editing process.
  3. Lack of confidence: Believe in your abilities and be open to feedback for growth.
  4. Isolation: Engage with the writing community and seek support from friends and family.

Again. Are you ready to pay the price?

What is this most valuable thing you have to invest? I guess you know it.

It is time. In this context. That currency so precious it cannot be taken away from you by others without your okay. And yet it is the gateway to everything. What you desire. And the older you and I get, the more precious it becomes.

How to use time effectively? Ask yourself: Is the goal worth the effort? If the answer is yes, then focus your attention on it. Whatever you focus on grows. Your attention makes it grow. You become your goal.

I wrote this newsletter inspired and supported by GPT-4.

Hope you like it… .

Tell me about your writing history.

This article first appeared in my newsletter on Linkedin.

Follow, subscribe and comment:

I wish you all the energy, good health and luck you need!

Published by Hans-Jürgen John

Hans-Jürgen John is founder of the literature platform On Johntext Switzerland he publishes articles concerning social, cultural and political issues.

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