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Tips from Working Writers - What You Need to know

By: Angelique Caffrey - Updated: 20 Sep 2012 | comments*Discuss
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Are you someone who desires to become a full- or part-time professional writer?

Congratulations! Working with words can be an amazingly fulfilling and exciting career; it can also lead to personal epiphanies and incredible opportunities.

But before you quit your day job, take the following tips from working writers to heart. (Don’t worry – they aren’t meant to scare you away from the field, but to give you insights so you can realise your dreams!)

1. Keep Your Goals Modest… at Least at the Start

If you’ve never been published before and your goal is to win the Pulitzer Prize next year, you’re probably in for a huge amount of disappointment.

Make certain that you’re being realistic, especially if you’re starting a writing career from scratch. Aim to get published in a few places in the coming months or year (such as in smaller print publications, in newsletters, or on websites.)

Once you have a track record as a writer, you can begin to build your clientele and clips.

2. Do Your Homework

It’s a good idea to do a little research before setting off on your own; that way, you’ll have the advantage of pragmatic education.

For instance, there are plenty of free online writing message boards and writers’ societies where you can ask for information from people who are actually writing for a living. Be bold and don’t hold back – the more data you can gather, the better prepared you’ll be.

Additionally, you can find tons of writing tidbits in writers’ magazines as well as reference books. (Purchase or borrow only the most recent volumes –outdated ones might not be as helpful or accurate.)

3. Pace Yourself

As you begin to attract clients, it can seem a terrible thing to say, “No, I can’t work with you now.” But if you find yourself consistently working 12-hour days and still can never catch up, it’s time to pace yourself.

In the short term, you might lose an opportunity or two, but you need to have faith that more customers will be around the corner. And besides – if you’re not healthy, your business cannot hope to grow.

4. Make Sure to Keep Records

It’s up to you as a working writer to keep records for your own benefit (not to mention for tax purposes as well.)

If you have never owned your own business, you might want to get a book on becoming a sole proprietor or working from home. In fact, it’s a great idea to connect with an accountant if you’re serious about taking your writing to a professional level.

As a result, you’ll know how to set up your office and paperwork so items don’t get lost or slip through the proverbial cracks.

5. Always Grow as a Writer

Even if you’re comfortable with your writing style and ability now, don’t forget to work on becoming better and better!

As writers, we can often get so caught up in writing for clientele that we neglect to pay attention to building our own acumen. Even if you just do a few composing exercises a week, they will help your proficiency, clarity and overall expertise.

6. Don’t Become a Hermit

Writing can be lonely work at times, but that doesn’t mean you have to eschew being around other human beings in order to succeed!

Though many writers prefer to network online, it’s important to have a cadre of professional friends with whom you can chat in person. Try joining a local writers’ group or taking a class at a university so you can begin building your acquaintances.

7. Remain Positive

Clients like to work with people who are flexible and positive – this means you should try to turn potential negatives into possibilities whenever you can.

Even if your writing isn’t quite as strong as someone else’s, you could wind up landing jobs simply because you’re easier to work with than another author. It’s a fact of life, and though it might not seem fair, being optimistic can absolutely give you a leg up on the competition!

8. Enjoy Your Work

Finally, never forget to have fun. Being able to make a living as a working writer is a privilege. Many people talk about doing it, but very few have the chutzpa to set off on their own.

Consequently, you should always give yourself permission to enjoy yourself. You’ll be much happier if you do… and isn’t fulfillment the ultimate goal of any career?

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