Let me preface this article with a disclaimer: This blog post does not contain the secret to instant success and reading it won’t necessarily make you the next Stephen King or Jeffrey Archer. But it does contain a recipe for making your journey to greatness a whole lot more enjoyable which, as I’ll explain later, is key to your success as a writer.
Ready? Okay, here goes:
To be a truly good and, more importantly, a happy writer, you must always write for yourself.
Why do you think I called this website For Our Love of Writing? “Love” is the word I’d like to draw your attention to because, without that single critical ingredient, there is no writing, there are only words on a page. Meaningless, soulless words.
When you write with passion and when you are truly emotionally invested in your work, you breathe life into those words and they become stories.
A major stumbling block that many new freelance writers encounter (myself included when I first started out) is that their primary objective is making money. This makes complete sense because many writers are intrigued by the idea of servicing many high-paying clients, but eventually the pressure they put themselves under becomes so much that they abandon writing completely.
I speak from experience, because that is very nearly what happened to me.
I kept reading blog after blog telling me how much money I could make freelancing if I could just land a guest post or an editorial contribution with a major publication. The problem with this advice, well-intentioned though it probably was, was that it ultimately resulted in me doubting myself.
Would I ever be able to write anything of value? Would anyone want to read the ramblings of a complete unknown? What would I even write about?
These nagging doubts, insecurities and fears so paralyzed me that I very nearly quit freelance writing altogether. That would have certainly been the easy way out. But then, we writers don’t do easy, now do we?
It was a conversation with a particularly talented therapist that eventually set me straight.
What was the magic piece of advice that she gave me that restored my faith in my own abilities and made me produce more content than ever before?
Well, she simply reminded me of something that I had somehow managed to forget: that I actually enjoyed writing. It was never intended to be some arduous chore that would sap the joy from me and make me question myself, it’s something that I loved doing long before I even knew what money was.
I wrote my first story (complete with illustrations, if one could call them that. It was evident from an early age that my creative output should be restricted to words!) when I was around 8 years old. It was about a leopard and it brought me great joy to recite excerpts from this work of literary genius to anyone who would listen.
Did I write it for profit? Of course not! I wrote it for the love of writing and the love of storytelling. As you get more and more freelance work, there will invariably be tedious, mind-numbing jobs about subjects in which you have exactly zero interest, and in those instances it is more important than ever to just enjoy the process even if you hate the content.
Here are four tips to make your writing more enjoyable:
- Write about something you love. Every one of us has something that we feel truly passionate about, whether it be collecting antique dolls or politics, and I’m willing to bet that there are others who are passionate about the same things. But even if there aren’t, writing about the topics you love will prove immensely satisfying. Trust me on that one.
- (If you are in a position to do so) Forget about money, at least for now. Money shouldn’t be your main motivator, at least not at first. First and foremost, you should be writing for your love of writing. If you can do that, it is extremely likely that the money will follow because your passion will fuel fantastic, high-quality content.
- Stop using the success of others as a yardstick for your own. Yes, there are plenty of freelance writers, guest bloggers and the like that make heaps of money writing. I can guarantee you that they did not get there overnight. Just like you, and just like me, they had to start somewhere and build a reputation and credibility over time. Persevere, write with passion and purpose, and you’ll get there eventually.
- Blog. I’m sorry to have to tell you this, but there’s no getting around it: a freelance writer in the 21st century needs a blog. A blog will not only act as a showcase of your work for potential clients, it is also immensely therapeutic (ask me!) and is a great way to develop your writing skills and pin down your unique voice.