Posts Tagged ‘Writing career’

The Reading Writer (II)

Previously, I wrote about the various ways in which reading helps the writer (see “Reading Writer” under the category Improve Your Writing Skills) and looked at four benefits or advantages. This time I would like to focus on how to make the reading habit a permanent part of your lifestyle as a writer.

You see, it’s very easy to keep telling writers that they must read often in order to become better at their craft but this can be a tricky thing for some. Many writers are faced with deadlines to write copy or pressure to produce a certain number of articles that sometimes it’s hard to slot in reading of books, journals, magazines or other writers’ articles. This is especially so for the large number of writers who do it for a living as their main source of income. Besides, reading doesn’t come easily for everyone and so it takes real effort and commitment to inculcate it as a daily or even weekly activity, for example.

I, myself, have made it a goal to read at least one book every month, not necessarily in my field. However, it is a goal that I have to keep reminding myself to fulfill and sometimes it gets tricky when I do not have extra money to buy a new book. Borrowing is an option, of course, but that usually means I am limited to what is available with friends as opposed to what I feel I need to read (in any case, I prefer to own books, not borrow them). Your own case is probably different from mine but whatever your struggle is with getting to read regularly, I would like to offer you some suggestions that can help.

Here are five:

1. Cultivate a love for books
You may be asking, “How do I cultivate a love for books?” Well, the same way you would do it for a person. What are the factors that commonly lead to falling in love? One of them is spending a lot of time with that person, listening to them and enjoying their company. Spend time with the few books that you have, if you do, or buy one or two to start with. Read a chapter in the morning and another in the evening. Go to the library once a week and browse or search for something interesting to borrow. Attend the annual book fair (if it hasn’t happened yet) and visit every stand, talking to authors and publishers alike.

In simple language, go out of your way to acquaint yourself with the world of books. This is something you have to do consistently and consciously as there is no magic for it.

2. Set a reading goal
…and please stick to it, no matter what!
You could copy me and start with reading one book per month, or set a goal that fits in with your own schedule. Just make sure you are not over- ambitious (five books a month may be a bit too much) nor should you aim too low. By the way, it doesn’t have to be books only – feel free to pursue other reading materials like magazines. The key is to have a focus (the goal) and be consistent over time. Goals have a way of making us more focused and purposeful in what we are doing, both of which are essential for getting desired results.

 

3. Join a book club
There are plenty of online and offline book clubs where you could get to further nurture this new pursuit. You will find people to exchange notes with, discuss difficulties, discover new books to read and generally become more exposed to the world of reading. Some book clubs even have their own libraries from which members can borrow books that they may not be able to afford to buy.

 

4. Spend time with people who love to read
Enthusiasm is one thing that tends to rub off very easily! The more you hang around book lovers, who are enthusiastic about what they do, the more likely you will become like them, little by little.

I know this is related to point 3 above but it doesn’t have to be a formal club; it could be just a single friend who enjoys reading as a pastime and you could agree to be reading together once in a while. Sometimes it helps just to have near you someone who does the same things you do for motivation purposes.

 

5. Build a private library


This is something I plan to do in the long-term, not just for me but also for my children in future. You can do the same too, little by little, with the literature you buy regularly. The advantage is that you have a 24/7 domestic resource center with a variety of literature to suit various needs, e.g. journals for research, novels for leisure, etc. Make sure the room for the library is well-designed with comfortable chairs and cushions as well as a reading desk and proper lighting. This goes towards providing an incentive to be there for long periods of time.

 

Well, these are action points that you can implement easily and become a Reading Writer. Let me know how it works for you or if you think of something else that can help.

Sincerely,

Edna.

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Developing your writing skills: self-improvement for writers.

How many of us take time out of our busy writing schedules to focus specifically on improving our ability to write?

I called a friend of mine recently (we share the same writing passion) to pass on some vital information and after the usual chit-chat I asked him what he was doing at that particular time. It was a Saturday morning. He told me that he had allocated that whole day for reading; reading articles, eBooks and stuff he had gotten from the internet to help sharpen his writing skills. I thought to myself, what a lovely idea, devoting a whole day to an activity that doesn’t involve writing but contributes to your writing career!

 

Do writers have to spend all their waking hours scribbling or typing away till their fingers ache? I don’t think so. I believe there is a place for investing in self-improvement to become even more productive. Take some time off your routine writing and think about activities you can engage in to make you a better writer. I know this may not be easy, especially for writers on contract or when you have a number of clients waiting but remember that your future as a writer depends on what you do today. The sum of activities and decisions made in your present are a good indication of future outcomes. Try to invest in your tomorrow today.

You may be asking, so what can I do to improve my writing skills?

For starters, ask yourself where you want to be in the next 2 – 5 years. What kind of a writer do you want to be? Are you likely to change what you are doing now, e.g. from writing articles for sale to writing your own books and publishing? The goals you have set for your writing career will determine what you need to do. However, there are those basic things that every writer must engage in to develop themselves further regardless of their particular interests. My favorite one is reading (I wrote an earlier post on this entitled The Reading Writer. You can find it in the archives). Another one is mentorship or being mentored.

Let’s talk about these items next time. For now, keep mulling over what you need to do to develop yourself as a writer.

All the best,

Edna.

Getting Started on Freelance Writing: 5 Things to Consider

Freelance writing is getting popular everyday! I can attest to that by the number of people turning to it on a full time basis, including me of course! The options available are vast, exciting, interesting and potentially very profitable. Thanks to the world getting smaller electronically and more technologically advanced, writers are sniffing out new opportunities for business.

Writing as a career is not a bread-and-butter issue, though. It requires a certain level of commitment, passion, discipline and diligence. You’ve got to work out a plan that clearly outlines what you will be doing, how, when and where. The plan should also include an estimate of your anticipated income and how you expect to earn it. Does that seem like a mountain? I hope not, but here are five primary things to consider first before launching into writing as a career:

1. Do you really want to write?

First of all, you need to be sure that you really want to write. Writing is work so you must be ready to carry the load every day or week depending on how often you need to write. Ask yourself questions like, how much passion do I have for writing? Is it just a past-time (hobby) or is there a cause for which I must write? It will be hard to make a career out of writing if your interest is half-hearted or limited. Although you will not become a guru overnight, you need to have a strong inner conviction that this is your line because that is what will keep you going during the hard times.

2. What kind of writing are you interested in?

There are various types of writing that you can engage in and the choice is yours. It all depends on individual skill, experience and interest. You need to define clearly what kind of writing you will engage in because opportunities are vast out there. Besides, some appear very lucrative at face value but can turn out to be a great challenge to implement.

Write a list of possibilities including the pros and cons of each. To help you do this better, do an online research on all the options available, e.g. copywriting, blogging, content writing, transcription services, writing for magazines, ghost writing, etc. Out of that list, pick two as a starting point. These should be the ones that are easy for you, especially the ones you have already started doing. For instance, you may already have a blog running or you have been writing short stories since high school days. This means you may have developed some level of skill in that area, which makes it easier for you to launch into it as a career.

3. Do you have what it takes?

A writing career is very demanding of personal time and effort. Most people don’t realize how long it takes to become an exceptional writer or one who is sought after by publishers. When you look at published authors during book signing events, for example, it seems as though they got their book out very easy but that is not so. They probably took a few years to write and then suffered a few rejections from editors and publishers first.

To make a career out of writing requires a lot of determination, self-belief and an ability to market your work. You must be able to build a brand and make it stand out so that clients choose your service over others. You will also need a high level of excellence that will make your clients keep coming back.

4. Does it make economic sense to you?

Never begin a new project without first counting the cost and evaluating what benefit it will bring. This applies to your writing career. It will effectively be a business for you so you need to sit down and work out the mathematics of it. How much will you be able to earn in, say, one month? Will that amount cover all your expenses? What about things like medical insurance? Will you be able to put something aside towards savings? This is just to ensure that you are being practical about things. Remember also that people will be asking you why you have chosen to be a writer (out of all the other possible careers in this world) and you will need to have a sound answer.

5. Basis of operation

Lastly, albeit very important point, determine your mode of operation. Will you rent an office somewhere or will you be working from the house? Of course, the latter would be a better option for someone who is just starting out because then you have fewer expenses to worry about. Consider also whether you will need to purchase a laptop or work from a cyber café, or borrow somebody’s machine to start with before you get your own.

A good plan for your freelance writing career is worth all the trouble. You will avoid many pitfalls that are common for newcomers in the field.