What it Takes to Make it as a Freelance Writer & Author

Going Solo front cover_hi_resDear Friends and Fellow Writers,

At the beginning of 2014, I reached two personal and professional milestones in my life: forty-five years as a writer and twenty-five years in my own business. When I began this journey in 1969, I could not have imagined that I would still be traveling the same road in 2014.In the November issue of Write • Publish • Promote, I wrote about closing the gap between your current reality and your vision. I first discovered that concept in 1984 in a book called The Path of Least Resistance by Robert Fritz. It was the right message at the right time, and I adopted it on the spot. I’ve created a lot of visions (goals) over the years and to my own amazement, reached every one. I started small, though at the time, it seemed huge. I wanted to have an article published.There is power in knowing what you want and going for it. I wanted to write and have “freelanced” for my entire career, even when I had a job. You are a freelancer if you write one thing that is published, even if you don’t get paid, if you make your living by writing for other people, or anything in-between those two extremes.My new book, Going Solo: How to survive & thrive as a freelance writer is available in print and ebook format. It includes everything I know about writing for a living. Here are some of the traits it takes to make it as a freelance writer:

What it Takes to Make it as a Freelance Writer & Author

Talent, tenacity, determination
Talent is a gift, but talented writers don’t always succeed. Given a choice between talent and dogged determination, I would bet on the latter every time. in my experience, promising authors who are passionate about writing and publishing their books most often succeed. Some had talent; some did not. (They all had good editors, by the way).

Obsession & Self-discipline. 
From the moment I first sat down to write, I was hooked instantly and forever. That is my definition of obsession. Developing self-discipline is a four-step process: (1) A goal (knowing what you want to achieve); (2) The decision (to go for it;) (3) A plan (that is possible); and (4) action (working the plan)

Curiosity & Imagination
Curiosity is the unquenchable thirst for knowledge; imagination is the process by which we create something entirely new out of that knowledge. If everything that exists is already known, then curiosity impels us to search for what is known, and imagination sees it in a new and unique form.

Trust in the creative process
Creativity is mysterious. An artist or inventor takes existing elements—ideas, materials, words—throws them into a pot, stirs them around for a while, and ultimately produces a completely original product. That product is unlike anything like anything else in the world. It doesn’t matter what goes into the mix; what comes out is always unique.

Mind like a Sponge
This means a lust for learning and the ability to absorb and retain what is learned. People with such minds take in as much as possible; think about it; talk about it; write about it and, especially, make new and original connections out of it. Then, they integrate all of this information—make it a part of themselves.

Endurance & Physical Stamina
Writing is an extremely physical activity for which we should train to stay in shape. Exercise develops stamina, strength, and flexibility; clears the mind, calms the soul, and relieves stress; jump starts the creative process; releases endorphins; and brings balance to a highly cerebral vocation.

A book is not conceived in a single brainstorming session or written in a matter of hours. Two of the most important strengths a writer needs are focus and a long attention span. Focus means total concentration or fixed attention on the project at hand. The trick is to stay focused; that is what is meant by having a long attention span.

Marketing Savvy
Marketing does not mean selling; it means identifying a need in the market place and finding a way to fill it. As it applies to surviving and thriving as a freelance writer, marketing means letting potential clients or editors know who you are, how you can help them, and why you should be the first and only person they call. If people don’t know who you are or what you can do for them, you are hardly going to be the first person they think of when they need help.

Technical Competence
It is virtually impossible to be a freelance writer or an author without being computer literate. Moreover, it is becoming impossible to sustain yourself in this business unless you have email, a smart phone or an iPhone,  a laptop, a fax machine or fax capabilities on your computer, and the ability to cross computer platforms. You may also own a scanner/copy machine/printing device, an external hard drive or a “cloud” back-up system, and countless software programs.

Writers put words on paper for public consumption, and sometimes that’s a scary business. Why? Isn’t that what we are supposed do? Yes, that is what writers do. Does it take courage to take to write something—a book, for example—and let someone else read it? Yes, in reality, it takes a great deal of courage to do it time after time; day after day; sometimes, year after year. In fact, there are few aspects of writing—especially a book—that don’t require just plain chutzpah.

“Crystallize your goals. Make a plan for achieving them and set yourself a deadline. Then, with supreme confidence, determination, and disregard for obstacles … carry out your plan.”   Paul J. Meyer


Bobbi Linkemer is a book coach, ghostwriter, editor,and author of 18 books. She has been a professional writer for 45 years, a magazine editor, and a book-writing teacher. Visit WriteANonfictionBook.com and register now for How to Write, Publish, & Promote a Nonfiction Book, an online course for aspiring authors.

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