So You Want to be a Writer? Maybe You Should read this…
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Do I want to be a writer?
I asked myself the same question about 2 years ago.
The answer was yes.
The truth is that I am a lazy person. I am 25 years old and my favourite hobbies include Netflix on the sofa and fast food. I march to the beat of my own drum and hold no fondness for authority so the standard go-to-work-and-be-bossed-around-from-9-til-5, was not working for me.
After 4 years of working a crappy job for a pittance, I made the decision to become my own boss.
But was it just a case of putting pen to paper? Would writing prove to be a viable hand to feed me? The fact was – I didn’t know nor care. For a long time, I was happy so long as I had a bite to eat and a roof over my head.
Eventually though, I realised what I did required a certain amount of skill, a skill which others didn’t possess. It was then that I began to see my words as a product which I shouldn’t be giving away for cheap. That was the moment I started making real money in my new profession and if you want to be a writer there is no reason why you can’t too.
DISCLAIMER: It took two long years from the original decision to get to a place where I am financially stable and comfortable through writing. It is an uphill struggle so if you’re unwilling to invest a shitload of time and effort then do something else.
For those who are willing to be a writer and not just think about it….let’s begin.
Choose your field.
There is a host of different areas to choose from when it comes to writing and a lot of money to make from them all if you know what you are doing. Luckily I’m here to help you.
Perhaps you fancy yourself as a creative writer, destined to fill bookshelves with your novels (we’ll talk more about that in a future post) or maybe you would like to be a poet. It could be that you’d like to try your hand at copywriting for businesses or technical writing for huge companies like Windows.
Whatever you want to do, it’s prudent not to cast the net too wide when choosing your field. Having a niche and sticking to it is always the best strategy. The vast majority of my freelance jobs, for example, are creative travel writing projects.
To be a writer, you need a routine.
Most writers I know are freelance. Now being freelance means there is no boss to shout down the phone when you don’t get up for work. There is no 9 to 5 nor any timetables to tell you when to begin and end your job – it’s all up to you!
The transition from being bossed to being your own boss is not easy. It is so tempting to procrastinate and when I was starting out I had no idea where to begin. I used an app called Fabulous to help get on top of my day and begin a healthy routine. I am in no way affiliated with the developers it’s just a superb app for disorganised folk like myself!
Stephen King once said that if you want to be a writer, no matter what kind, you should be writing at least 6 hours a day. This is nonsense. Write as much as you can but at least a little every day. Invest the rest of your time into developing your business i.e. doing proposals for freelance projects, working on your portfolio or submitting work. Days are long, years are short. Don’t waste any time!
Practice makes perfect
Writing comes naturally to some but coherency requires a lot of practice. If you want to be a writer in the twenty-first century, you must master the balance between solid, quality writing and brevity. The past ten years have seen a decline in peoples’ attention span and this can be attributed to the rise of social media so as writers we have a duty to keep up with the trend.
No matter what stage of your writing career you’re at, it’s good to move with the times and adapt to the world around you which is changing at unprecedented speeds. Make sure to stay up to date on How to be a Writer where we will discuss writing for the future with an in-depth series.
Get feedback but don’t be too harsh.
The most important thing to do when submitting any variety of work (be that a piece of copy or a manuscript) is to get some feedback.
If you have the luxury of not working to a tight deadline, assign 3 ‘willing’ friends or family members who will scan your work for you without being afraid to criticise your writing. Take what they have to say on board and use your own judgement to determine what’s right for your text.
Working with clients is a different story. They will always have some feedback and if ‘the customer is always right’ then there isn’t much you can do about it. If you really disagree with what your client says then it doesn’t hurt to communicate that to them politely. State your case and if they won’t budge then just adhere to what they say, after all – it’s their work!
Don’t be sloppy
Typos will humble even the greatest writers.
I said that. I didn’t make it up though I just can’t remember the original quote so I rehashed it.
It’s true, though. If you want to be a writer then get used to making a tonne of stupid mistakes and not being able to see them even after five edits. It’s these little grammatical errors that will compromise the integrity of your reputation but fortunately, there is no reason to let that happen.
We have an abundance of resources at our fingertips that surpass the typical spell checker.
Tools like Grammarly invaluable in double checking the small things which standard spell checkers normally miss.
Don’t forget your portfolio!
Whether it’s a website or a neatly packaged folder you need a portfolio if you want to be a writer in 2017. Choose your most outstanding pieces of work and mix them with the other guff putting the pieces you weren’t so happy with at the bottom.
It’s not good enough to just say ‘I’m a writer,’ these days. Potential clients want to see what you can do. In many cases they are trusting you with the image of their company so there is a lot of weight on your shoulders.
Keep it current and eye-catching! These guys scan portfolios every, single day.
Be kind to yourself
This could be the most important point in the whole article. Making the decision to write for a living can be one of the most stressful decisions of your life. Being a writer is not all fun and games, especially if you’re joining the game later. The profession is sometimes taxing and it’s not for the faint of heart and this is why it’s imperative that you take care of your own wellbeing.
There is no deadline, no wordcount so important that you need to sacrifice your own mental health. Make sure to sleep, eat well and rejuvenate by taking regular breaks or exercise throughout writing sessions. Stress and anxiety will reflect badly in your work and will hold you back if you want to be a writer!
You can do it
Believe me, I am by no stretch of the imagination perfect but I did it. That means if you want to be a writer then you can, I promise. With a little guidance and a lot of trial and error, you can be working from home and writing what you love within 2 years. Make sure to subscribe to H2BAW on Twitter and Facebook for our valuable writing articles!