What Freelance Writers Can Learn From a Corny Old Movie

I watched a great old movie with my two sons recently — Angels in the Outfield (not that old, the 1994 version).

What’s a kiddie baseball movie have to do with being a successful freelance writer?

Everything.

In case you haven’t seen it, the story concerns a boy in foster care who’s a California Angels baseball fan. The boy prays for the team to start winning, and soon he starts to see angels on the ballfield, helping the team’s players. Only he can sense their presence, but they turn the team around and the Angels start winning.

In the pennant game, though, the angels won’t interfere. The pitcher is an old-timer recently reinvigorated by the angels’ presence, but he starts to falter in the final inning. Without the angels, he can’t do it.

Suddenly the boy realizes how to help. He stands up and flaps his arms, the pre-arranged signal that he sees angels on the field. Believing he has divine assistance, the pitcher reaches inside and becomes more than who he was a moment before. He is lifted up by his faith.

Then he throws that final strike.

No angels were really helping. Only his belief that he could do it made it happen.

In fact, the pitcher is half-dead of lung cancer and has six months to live, the angel reveals. What he did — pitching a winning game with an arm that blew out long ago — was impossible.

But he went out and did it anyway, because he believed he could.

This movie reminded me that there is one precious ingredient freelance writers need to be successful:

You have to believe you can do it.

If you do not have that faith, down deep in your heart — that writing is your gift to this world and you can use it to earn a living — none of the tips and advice I offer on this blog will help you.

Even though there are a million other wannabe writers out there competing for gigs, you must know you have something special. And you will find your place in the vast freelance-writing market. You know there’s a spot for you in there, somewhere.

Faith makes you unstoppable.

So — believe you can find gigs.

Believe you can write those articles well enough to get the next gig.

Believe you can pay your bills with your writing.

The freelance writing life is just too full of rejection and discouragement and it’s too easy to quit unless you know this is for you.

Then, you will let no obstacle stand in your way. Fifty queries that go unanswered will not turn you back.

Would you believe a college dropout could write for the Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times and Fortune 500 companies?

I believe I have unlimited potential as a writer, and it happened to me.

Writers often ask me, “Am I qualified to do technical writing? To write for a major national magazine? To write textbook supplements? To write for businesses?”

My answer is: “Do you feel you can?”

Then, yes. Go out and do it. Shine that light.

Do you believe you can be a successful freelance writer? Leave your statement of faith in the comments.

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25 comments on “What Freelance Writers Can Learn From a Corny Old Movie
  1. Richard says:

    Angels in the Outfield is really good movie to watch. It relate how we humans, believe only the things we saw and when its not there, our doubt started to appear and we lost focus. And it needs a a little child faith for us to start believing again.

    Really a wonderful show. And l love your review.
    Richard recently posted…Best way to win the lotteryMy Profile

  2. ricki says:

    It’s the Dumbo principle….The feather didn’t help him fly. It was believing in himself. That, and his awesome ears. Writers have to have faith in themselves AND find their awesome ears. Because a successful writer these days is kind of like an elephant that flies.

    • Carol Tice says:

      Right on! Or as my husband likes to say, it’s like the amazing flight of bees. They’re too heavy to fly too, on their tiny wings. And yet they do. I’m sure they believe they can.

  3. Di Mace says:

    Great post as always Carol. Love it. Picked me up on a cold rainy, winter’s day ‘Down Under’.

    Of recent weeks, like Peter Pan, my supportive shadow had somehow come unstitched from me and I had felt very fractured. I put it down to the effect of too much toggling in my life and looking after others needs ahead of my own (typical Mum).

    As all good writers would, I blogged about it. I looked at what the self-doubt had taught me. That allowed me to see the real reason and gave me the gift of reminding me that the most powerful force you have is what you say to yourself … and what you believe.

    You’ve got to believe in yourself before anything can happen – by accident or design.

    So thanks again Carol, for reinforcing the message!

  4. Great movie and a great message. A great note to start my day on…even though I’m getting started a little late.

    Faith really does make all the difference. Like Henry Ford said: Whether you think you can or can’t, you’re right.
    Sarah Porter-Pennington recently posted…Life Boot Camp for Freelance WritersMy Profile

  5. Boy did I need this post today! In fact, I’m printing it out for my bulletin board. My to-pay-the-bills workload has been difficult to deal with lately, especially with being highly sensitive, so my writing has suffered for the past month or so. I’m really lucky though, in the respect that I’m not one to admit defeat; I will keep going and most of the time will throw on that extra pot of coffee to reach my goal word count, lol! What I’m dealing with now, is teaching myself that listening to my body and resting is not defeat, it will just take me a little longer to reach my writing goals. But they’ll be there, patiently waiting for me, since it’s me who has to create them. 🙂
    Krissy Brady, Writer recently posted…Mslexia 2011 Women’s Novel CompetitionMy Profile

  6. Edna says:

    Thanks for the post! — a wonderful reminder about faith and belief. Very timely, too.

    Things switched on for me when I realized I needed to believe in myself as a writer, that I could make a living writing and that I’m talented enough to (somedays! ) pull it off….

    My main client’s business has slowed down so instead of having me do more targeted marketing, he’s pulled back on marketing which is what most people do.

    So I’m in this place I’ve been before but not for a while….believing new clients will come to me and want to pay for my services….consistently.

    I’ll keep reading your posts — thanks!
    Edna

  7. Debbie Kane says:

    Thanks, Carol. I love your inspiration! As a student, I really wanted to be a journalist but didn’t think I had the guts and pursued a career in public relations. I always enjoyed the writing aspects of my jobs the most (and was told a couple times that my writing stunk). I finally decided to satisfy my journalism cravings — 20 years later — and started writing for a local newspaper. Then I was laid off my 9-to-5 job and decided to take the plunge into writing full-time.

    I should have trusted my gut 20+ years ago. You can’t determine where you’ll find work based on rigid notions of your ability. My largest editorial client publishes a food/wine/liquor publication. I got the job because I sat next to the publisher at a fundraiser; when she found out I was a writer, she asked if I wrote about food (I didn’t but I said I did!). I also work for an ad agency that specializes in business-to-business work. I was intimidated at first because that’s not my expertise. Turns out that’s why the agency president hired me — because I didn’t have a technical background. Your writing talent is important — but so is your ability to see the big picture.

    • Carol Tice says:

      Love your moxie, Debbie!

      We’ve all written about food, right? 😉 I wrote on Facebook “I loved this sandwich…”

      I got the same speech when I first started writing about real estate, for the L.A. Times originally. I said, “Shouldn’t I be a former realtor or mortgage broker or something?” And the editor said please no — those people can’t WRITE.

  8. Maryellen says:

    It fills me with joy and thanksgiving to read what you wrote about this truth that exists in all of our lives. We are the rich children of a rich father and we live in abundance. I was getting regular gigs through Elance.com, but they were just awful. I could barely drag myself to work on them. Finally, one day when I was researching colon cleansing for my latest project, and had to see the most disgusting pictures and read copy with it that made me nauseous, I snapped. I changed my Elance profile to read that I would only accept freelance writing jobs that benefited others and were uplifting. I left the details to God.

    Sure enough, I starting getting unbelievable assignments to write about freedom, qualities people need to have before getting married, having compassion and trustworthiness, the law of abundance and more along those lines. I thanked my higher power and continue to thank him. I just finished writing articles about intuition and living by it.

    Thanks for another great article. I love this blog. Please don’t use whole posts to plug your webinars. I don’t have sound in my computer and they are of no use to me.

    Maryellen
    Maryellen recently posted…Hey, KC, >8-D, :-(O)…, 2bctnd–A Guide to Text Messages and AbbreviationsMy Profile

    • Carol Tice says:

      Hi Maryellen —

      First, thanks for sharing a great story! Now if you just looked for jobs somewhere beyond Elance, think what you’d find…

      No sound on your computer…now that’s just wrong. Hopefully we can get you some. I would think you should be able to add that function with a component you snap in…or have Geek Squad snap in.

      I rarely devote a whole post to talking about something I’m promoting, as I think it’s annoying. I try to deliver the usual useful stuff and then maybe mention it.

      But this is one of the big reasons I’m starting Freelance Writers Den — it should mean a lot less marketing for me, and a lot more time to focus on delivering useful tips for earning more. I won’t be marketing my Webinars much after it opens, as the Webinars will be presented free to members.

  9. Stephanie says:

    You are my freelance writing cheerleader! I can recall two moments in my life where I knew I wanted to write for a living: the fourth grade and graduate school. After graduate school I could not land a job because of the economy. I resolved that this was the best opportunity to work for myself, especially when most of my papers and projects were about doing business online! I get a lot of encouragement from reading your posts. I believe I can make a living wage with my freelance writing business.
    Stephanie recently posted…Take a Vacation from Your Business or BlogMy Profile

  10. Erin says:

    I’ve already proven this works. I read a book on copywriting, said “hey, I’ll just do that then,” and went about doing it. I ran across a job ad for catalog copy, scribbled a few vaguely related samples in a wordpad document, and sent them in along with a pathetic resume. “I’m a good writer,” I thought. “That should be enough to get me in somewhere, even without actual experience!”

    I’m sure I appeared unprofessional, but it paid off. The guy said my crap samples were “quite impressive” (Not sure where he was coming from…) and I started working for them at a rate of approximately $60 an hour. Considering I had no clue what I was even doing and required more coaching than most, I was doing pretty well for myself.

    The point is that I truly believe I got that gig because I was so blindly optimistic about my own abilities, I didn’t let a silly thing like lack of samples and experience stop me from reaching out. When I finally learned better, that was when the fear of failure and not being good enough set in. It makes reaching out with the same enthusiasm and frequency much harder…and I have, at times, suffered for it.

    It really is all about the belief system you have in place. There are plenty of so-so writers who are making big bucks. There are also plenty of insanely talented individuals who will never write for anything beyond their own city’s newspaper. Talent, alone, is a cheap commodity. It’s the energy you send off into the world through your actions and beliefs that will set you apart from other writers.

    • Carol Tice says:

      Thanks for sharing this GREAT story, Erin!

      So often, I’ve found myself with a new client and a new line of work by simply saying, “Sure, I’ll try that.”

      Can I ghost blog for a CEO? At the time I didn’t really know what blogging WAS yet, but I said, “Sure, sounds fun.”

      I think the thing many writers don’t realize, especially when you’re writing for business, is that you’re dealing with people who often are not content connoisseurs. They just know what they have isn’t working and they should call in a word pro to make it better. Often, it doesn’t have to be super-brilliant to be tons better than it was, and they’re so grateful.

      I was actually just having this conversation with one writer in my mentoring program this morning, about how you can get into jobs you don’t have clips for…must write post on!

  11. OK, first off, I must admit: I’m not a big believer in The Secret, or fate, or an “if you build it, they will come” mentality.

    But today is showing me otherwise. I was on the way to work this morning, and the old cheesy Kenny Rogers song “She Believes in Me” came on — and I started tearing up.

    Before you surmise that I have issues (which may or may not be true), let me explain: It was this line that brought the tears:

    “I told her someday if she was my girl
    I could change the world
    With my little songs, I was wrong”

    I got to thinking: I’ve always thought my writing would change the world. Now here I am, 37 years old, still working for “the man” … and the lyrics hit too close to home.

    And then I come into the office and read this post. Grrrr. The Secret, indeed.

    I hear you, universe. I hear that I need to take a stand, believe in myself and reach inside and become more than who I was a moment before.

    Message received. Thank you, Carol! 🙂

    • Carol Tice says:

      Well now you’re making me cry…because I used to be a songwriter! That was my big initial dream.

      I used to have a different definition of what changing the world with my writing would look like.

      Now, I help business owners grow their business. And writers help turn their craft into a business.

      It’s not being a rock star and known by millions, but I discovered that knowing I helped someone pursue their dream and support themselves just FEELS GREAT.

      The format is different — computer keyboard, not piano keyboard — it’s all different than what I imagined…but life is good. I feed my family with just my crafty little brain and my ideas and my articles.

      And you can, too. Been working with quite a few people lately who started with a job and don’t have one anymore. The thrill of writing prose is there isn’t some age cutoff like in rock-n-roll. You can jump in at any point.

  12. Kymlee says:

    It’s so true. What you think about, you bring about. Abundance starts within and works its way into physical manifestation. And of course that doesn’t mean that sometimes things won’t get tough, because life is almost always about overcoming some challenge or another. But holding on to the knowledge that you are capable, talented and worthy are the things that will keep you from giving up.
    Kymlee recently posted…Are You Ready to Join the Ranks of Urban Bicyclists?My Profile

  13. Elizabeth says:

    Thanks for flapping your arms for all of us, Carol. I just submitted my letter of resignation to my full-time employer and will be focusing full time on my professional writing. I’ve always dabbled but never taken the dive, until today. Looking forward to posting again in a year with some success stories!

    • Carol Tice says:

      Hopefully it’ll be sooner than a year!

      A lot of the writers in my mentoring program start finding new clients within a few weeks. It doesn’t have to take a real long time. Might take longer to have your DREAM clients, but not that long to have SOME clients…

  14. This is a really great post! It reminds me of a conversation I had with my Dad the other day. You see, I’ve just signed the lease on my first apartment. The rent is pretty high (it’s just the area I live in) and my Dad was frustrated about the idea of paying for it. “I can help!” I said, and he grumbled “how? you don’t have a job.”

    “Yes I do. I’m doing freelance writing.”

    “But it’s not a steady set amount a month like the job you had before. So how do you know you can come up with rent money and focus on school without burning out.”

    “I can do it.”

    Even though I’m secretly terrified that I won’t be able to make my target sales amount, I believe that with enough effort and the right guidance, I could do this for the rest of my life. And for those of you wondering, Dad’s putting up first year’s rent. I’m taking that as 12 months to get my sh*t together.
    Corey Freeman recently posted…Unique Selling Points: How to Make Yourself Stand Out from Other WritersMy Profile

    • Carol Tice says:

      Hi Corey —

      I look forward to helping you ramp your freelance writing income!

      The secret of freelancing is if you’re motivated you’ll earn MORE than you would have at a job, especially a job for college students. Also unemployment for teens is VERY high right now…freelancing may even be a better bet.

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