There’s money to be made as a freelancer. In fact, many writers are now supporting themselves full time with income from their writing projects. Perhaps you want to be one of them. Here are my top ten ways to reach for the stars as a freelancer.
1. Set clear goals. If you set them, they become real. Give yourself deadlines. There’s nothing like the pressure of a deadline to kick you in gear! Print up your goals. Keep them handy. Give a copy to your accountability partner.
2. If you write for the CBA (Christian Bookseller’s Association) get a copy of Sally Stuart’s Christian Writer’s Market Guide. If you’re writing for the general market (American Bookseller’s Association) either buy the Writer’s Market Guide or sign up online. Both of these books will give you names and addresses of publishing houses, along with the needs in those houses. You’ll receive inside information on things like word count, topics, themes, etc. You will also receive other pertinent information: the editor’s name, email address, how he or she prefers to be contacted, and so on.
3. Type the words, “I am a writer” in large font and print the page. Put it on the wall (or near your desk) so you never forget.
4. Pay attention to life around you. Don’t just be an observer…be a journalist. Write it all down—what you see, what you hear, what you taste, what you smell, what you touch. Focus—really focus—on the ripple of the child’s giggle. The wrinkles in the elderly man’s face. The lilt in the clerk’s voice. The scar on the auto salesman’s cheek. The mismatched clothes on the young woman in line at the grocery store. The sound of potato chips crunching. The ringing of the cell phone. The more your write these things down, the better you’ll be able to transport your reader.
5. Write every day. Write even when you don’t feel like it, even if your words are gibberish.
6. Call yourself a freelance writer, even if you’ve never received payment for your work. You will…soon. Start saying it now. Introduce yourself as a freelance writer, then go on to tell folks what you’re working on.
7. Study the craft. Take online writing courses. Go to conferences. Ask other writers to take you under their wings.
8. Start with short pieces. Too many people set out to write a book without publishing smaller pieces first. Figure out how to craft a great magazine article. If you need help, consider taking a freelance writing course. A compelling article will open many doors for you. I know, I know…it’s not a book, but a publishing credit is a publishing credit. Besides, if you’re like most writers, it will be a good experience and will teach you a lot about the world of publishing.
9. Write in themes. If all of your short pieces are about child rearing, for example, you can later merge those short pieces into chapters for a book on parenting.
10. Don’t let the naysayers wear you down. They don’t understand your desire/need to write because they don’t share that same need. They don’t have to “get” you. What you do with your writing is your own business (literally) and you have to keep doing the thing you feel called/led to do.
If you reach for the stars, your publishing dreams can become realities. Sure, those stars may seem far away at the moment, but they grow closer and closer with every word you write.