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How to Become a Full Time Writer

Writing has been a dream of mine since I was a child.  I remember (and still own) my first story – “Snoopy and the Bananas” complete with illustrations.  It was a simply a rewrite of the “Boy Who Cried Wolf” but it lit the fire.

High school did not improve my writing opportunities.  Mostly, I just wrote in spiral notebooks – lots and lots of poems (I was a high school girl 😉 ).  A wise friend told me that I could never be a writer if I wasn’t willing to share.  It was time to bare my soul.

It has taken me almost twenty years to accept what he told me that day in the library.  I started small, but have slowly built up my opportunities to the point that I am writing full time.  It’s not always what I want to write, but I’ll get there as well.

1.      Practice – that means you have to write and write and then write some more.

2.      Learn – take classes, join writer’s groups, got to seminars and learn new techniques, new words and new styles.

3.      Stretch – go outside your comfort zone.  If you only write fiction then offer to write an article for your church’s newsletter.

4.      Ask – you will never get the job if you don’t ask for the job.  Get the latest addition to the Writer’s Market (or subscribe online) and find places that accept what you write.  Send out queries – the more you send the better you will get at writing them and the more likely you will start selling.  Even more exciting, when you sell one it will be even easier to sell the next.

5.      Look – there are writing opportunities every where and each one offers you a chance to expand your craft.  The pay check may not be as big as someone like TIME magazine might pay, but the little jobs will add up and they could open the door to more jobs.

Like any public industry (acting, singing, performing) writing requires that you have a tough skin.  Not everyone is going to love you but that means not everyone is going to hate you.  The way I survive is to find the good even in the bad (I call them personal rejections – where the editor took the time to write a personalized letter) and use that to improve on my skills.  And I press on.  Without persistence, nothing worth doing will survive.

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