To Freelance or Not to Freelance
There are many reasons people seek a career in freelance writing. Making extra money, being laid off from their regular job, special circumstances changing the way they can make a living are a few. Others may long to see their names in print, want to make a difference or dream of creating something of lasting beauty.
I chose freelance writing because I need the freedom to work as I see fit, in my own time. I wanted to be creative and prove to myself that I could. On a subconscious level, some of the other things listed may have entered into the decision as well. I simply wanted to communicate my ideas to the reading public.
Once the decision is made, for whatever reason, then what? Freelance writing is a profession just like any other. Luck and talent play their part, but success as a writer requires training, perseverance, and discipline. Suppose you wanted to become a doctor without going to medical school. How many hospitals would hire an untrained physician? In like manner, editors rarely give aspiring writers a break simply because they have a benevolent nature.
I’ve found that definite rules and procedures govern the publishing world and mastering those rules will increase your chances of landing commercial writing assignments. To become a freelance writer, I focused on developing and refining skills I had already achieved such as style and grammar.
A freelance writer is an independent contractor hired to provide a publication with an original piece of writing within an agreed upon time. Freelance writers sell their work to magazines, newspapers, and journals. Once the manuscript has been delivered and any adjustments or revisions have been made, it’s time move on to new—and more lucrative—assignments.
Financial considerations aside, the most rewarding aspect of the freelance life is the prerogative to explore only the topics and ideas that you find interesting. You also have a flexibility in setting up your work schedule and establishing the pace at which you want to work. A certain amount of perambulation is required to maintain those benefits, however, if you intend to make freelance writing your primary career.
In the beginning, you may have to combine your freelance writing with a regular job. You must budget every hour you devote to writing. This doesn’t reflect on your ability to develop a full-time career as a writer. On the contrary, most writers do this at the start of their careers. Nobel Prize-winning novelist William Faulkner wrote his first novels while shoveling coal in a Mississippi power plant. Many writers continue to work in their previously chosen fields even after they’ve published their work. The romantic notion of writers sitting in their ivory towers creating masterpieces is an unrealistic myth. Almost all good writing comes from being actively engaged in the real world.
So, if you’re sitting on the fence between writing and keeping the status quo, I say go for it. You’ll never know if you don’t try. You’ll soon find out if you have it in you to create something you’ll be proud of and share it with others interested in what you have to say. That’s exactly what I’m doing here. I hope you’ll join me.