Once upon a time, you dreamed of being a writer …
I bet you remember it well, that childhood urge to join the ranks of your favourite authors. The crushing disappointment when we realised that few writers ever make it “in real life”. Maybe you never realised it yourself, but when you spoke to your careers guidance counsellor, they quickly disabused you of the notion that you could make a living out of writing. Instead, they pushed you toward other areas in which you excelled. Ones that might let you pay your way through life.
The dream died, you went to college, maybe you even went to university, got a job that paid the bills, and writing for a living became a distant memory…
Years have passed. Maybe you stopped writing altogether, but perhaps you kept it up in the small hours of the morning. Maybe you kept a journal, maybe you even wrote several first drafts of novel ideas, but gave it up as being a pipedream. However, the dream still tickles your thoughts occasionally. Whenever you see ads for content /copywriters, ghostwriters, technical writers, the list goes on, you get that little feeling of regret. People DO make a living from writing, why didn’t anyone tell you about this before?
Unfortunately, you don’t feel that it’s possible to make the change now that you have an established career in… whatever.
The good news is that you can make that leap, you can earn a living from your writing, and what’s more, you’re in the best place in your life to do it.
Taking that first step…it’s only a little one
You know you can write. Beyond all the modesty and the fear of ridicule, you know you have the ability to write and write well. If you have material, you have something to show any employer you might approach for a writing job.
Your writing is obviously your primary skill, but if you’ve been working in a different field, it’s all experience.
The first job I applied for after content milling and freelancing (being a mom really needs a regular salary), I had some fantastic feedback from my first interview. I had a life experience.; I had several layers of work experience in varying sectors; I had a world view and knowledge.
I’m not for a moment suggesting that young writers aren’t appropriate for some roles, but for real-life writing, a broad experience of life is a necessity.
Even if you don’t have a long history with writing for a living, you can appeal to people across a broad range of demographics.
Take the step.
Once you make that step, you will realise that it’s not so scary.
Taking ALL the next steps
Getting to earn your living as a writer (if that’s what you really want to do) is not merely a case of “I’ve made it!” Writing means you’re continually learning new things; new ways of expressing yourself, adjusting to your audience, and how to best get your message across.
As a content writer and occasional blogger (I’ve still not managed to fit both into my schedule without family life suffering), I’m always learning something new about how to write. I have Udemy courses queuing up for attention as I stretch my wings into different formats.
I’ve been doing this for several years, and I am still learning every day. Learn from the things you read, from the feedback you receive — even when it’s negative — and don’t stop learning.
Writing & Learning are like Living & Breathing
You don’t get up every day and do the same thing over and over again. Even if you do follow a strict schedule, every time you do those tasks, there will be something different. The weather might be warmer or colder; you might have slept poorly; you might have had a wonderful dream. Whatever your routine, every day when you wake up, there are new variables.
Being a writer for a living is somewhat similar. You might sit at your desk every day and write about a specific niche, but there is always something new to add, a different perspective or a development to ponder.
Additionally, there’s nothing to prevent you from learning a new niche. They say that to be a good writer; you have to be a reader. I’ll agree with this but then I would because it gives me carte blanche to be an avid bookworm. So read more and expand your knowledge of your niche, your passions and the world.
Don’t let setbacks kill your spirit
There are no perfect writers. At the same time, no one is perfect. It takes time to find an employer, platform or publisher that fits your work and fits you. You might not be the kind of person who thrives being a freelancer, but you do in a structured (and salaried) environment.
If you want to make a living as a writer, you have to find a writing environment and structure that fits how you like to work and write. Nothing will kill your passion quicker, and lead to burnout, than trying to be creative and productive in a toxic environment.
It sounds like a lot of hard work with no benefit at the end. However, if you’ve always wanted to write for a living, you can’t ignore the feeling of relief and joy when you finally get there.
In the end, if it’s not everything you hoped it would be, you still have your lifetime of experience and former career to fall back on.