How to start as a writer
The process of becoming a writer can prove daunting; however, with aptitude and persistence, it is entirely possible. Below are some guidelines in order to start as a writer:
First, find a quiet environment free from distractions. Especially for novice writers, quietude is essential. Additionally, select a time of day to write that is most conducive to your energy level. Have a means to jot down ideas, whether with pen and paper or computer and notepad or Word document.
Secondly, determine the genre you will write in, be it an article, blog post, poetry, essay, newsletter, etc. According to author Carol Tice, “poetry, personal essays, and newsletters are tough to earn in, and novels will not pay your bills—at least not reliably or soon. Articles, blog posts, newsletters, web pages, case studies, white papers, annual reports, business plans, government contract bids, marketing materials of all kinds—these things pay.”
Third, brainstorm, identifying your topics of interest; pinpoint one you like and with which you are the most familiar. Make an outline, and then decide how long you will spend on each segment of it. Then, putting everything else aside, focus on writing your first draft.
Reflect on an opening and closing for your composition, then fill in the gap. Don’t attempt to edit as you initially compose, but rather save that for subsequent drafts. If possible, give yourself space before revisions to ensure objectivity.
Even in the early stages of your writing career, you should join a writers’ support group. Tice maintains that the easiest way to find your first clients is through individuals and organizations with which you are familiar such as:
• “Family and friends
• Publications you read
• Nonprofits where you volunteer or to whom you donate
• Locally owned businesses you patronize
• Government agencies that oversee issues of interest to you.”
Also, you can also find business prospects through your local chamber of commerce, a search on manta.com, or the Washington Business Journal Book of Lists.
As for what you will charge as a novice, it is often the best strategy to volunteer for small jobs and save a few samples of your work for a starter portfolio. It is better to ask clients what their rates are; if possible, put the onus on them. If not, reach out to your writer’s support group or consult Robert Lee Brewer’s The Writer’s Market (an extensive guide for most aspects of the process), Laurie Lewis’s What to Charge, Chris Marlow’s Easy Job Pricing for Copywriters or for more advanced writers, How to Negotiate Royalties and Bonuses also by Marlow. Start by quoting a small price, and incrementally increase it until you are earning a respectable wage (aim for at least $50 an hour). Furthermore, be sure to get written commendations from satisfied clients. Once these things are in place, you can start to sell your writings.
Don’t be afraid to promote yourself as every writer had to begin somewhere. Always obtain a contract, because without one, there is no accountability, and you may not get paid.
Finally, try the steps above for getting into the field, but if one doesn’t work, proceed to another. Every writer is unique, so the process of getting started as one is always through “trial and error.” Do you have any tip in order to start as a writer?
Tice, Carol. “The New Freelance Writer’s Quick-and-Simple Guide to Getting Started.” http://www.makealivingwriting.com/freelance-writer-get-started-guide/ (accessed February 5, 2017).
Marinich, Rory. “Six Ways to Start the Writing Process.” http://www.lifehack.org/articles/communication/six-ways-to-start-the-writing-process.html (accessed February 5, 2017).
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