Why You Need to Go For Your Freelance Writing Dream Now

Go for your freelance writing dreamRecently, I asked about what writers fear most — and one of the answers surprised me.

Quite a few writers told me they feared taking any action to start trying to make it as a freelance writer.

They were frozen because as long as they didn’t try to get published, they could preserve the fantasy that their freelance writing dream might still come true, one day in the mist-shrouded future.

As soon as they actually tried to be a freelance writer, they ran the risk that it wouldn’t work out. Then their dream would be shattered, forever. So they did nothing, year after year.

Oh, man. That is a disastrous attitude.

Today, I’m going to tell you why you’ve got to snap out of this and go for your writing career right away.

You see, I had a big dream like that once. And it died.

Here’s why that was the best thing that ever happened to me.

I dreamed a dream in time gone by…

The bug bit me when I was about 14. I loved music, and I wanted to be a singer-songwriter. Like Joni Mitchell or Joan Baez or Grace Slick, or ideally all of them rolled into one.

I practiced piano and learned a little guitar. I scribbled lyrics on every available space. I sang in a high-school vocal group.

I dropped out of college because I felt like I was wasting time there when I should be playing gigs. Moved back to L.A., started going to songwriting workshops, and scraped together a band.

Then I started trying to play gigs. And a weird thing happened.

Confronting chaos

Live rock performance is the ultimate uncontrollable scenario. Anything can and does happen.

Your drummer may decide to take the overnight party bus to Vegas or eat psychedelic mushrooms rather than turn up at the gig.

The sound system may malfunction and no one can hear you. Audience members may hoot, ignore you, or throw things. Or only two people show up, but you still have to play anyway.

You make mistakes while you’re playing. You forget lyrics.

When I say “you” there, of course I mean me. All those things happened to me. Some more than once.

And I hated it.

An unpleasant fact about me slowly became obvious.

Losing it

I discovered I am a control freak about my art.

I like to deliver my art to the world fully formed and perfect. The randomness of live performance both terrified and frustrated me.

Having everyone watch me while I delivered the song I was trying to get out there made me crazy nervous. It turned me into a scared little girl, a persona that didn’t mesh well with being a woman fronting a rock band.

The other requirements of building a life in rock ‘n’ roll didn’t appeal to me either, like the part where you need to hang around smoky clubs until 2 a.m. drinking and trying to get some club owner to book your band.

I’m asthmatic. Cigarette smoke makes me need my inhaler. Also, I’m good for one, maybe two drinks tops before I curl up under the table and take a nap. Hanging out with drunks is not my idea of fun.

This dream wasn’t working out at all like I imagined.

Breakdown

When you’re doing something over and over that you find radically stressful, your body has a way of trying to stop you.

For me, the performance stress made my voice shut down. I couldn’t sing properly.

The intense fears about what was going to happen during my set — what would go wrong and make me look stupid this time — made my throat constrict.

Within the first couple of songs, I would go completely hoarse. The next day, I couldn’t speak above a whisper. It became clear that getting a regular gig where I’d need to sing every night was out of the question.

I tried voice coaching. I did exercises and sang scales. I did relaxation and visualization. I’d remind myself that no matter how bad my gig sucked, 1 billion Chinese could care less.

But it was no use. I physically and emotionally wasn’t cut out for live performance.

When one door closes…

Right around this time, I entered an essay contest on a lark and won. They paid me $200.

And everything changed.

I had discovered a form of writing where they paid you — as opposed to my having to pay as a songwriter, for rehearsal space and studio time and to four-wall clubs to play gigs.

Even better, writing prose allowed me to tinker and perfect what I wanted to say. When I was happy with it, I sent it out into the world and readers enjoyed it…and I didn’t have to be there while they read it.

I loved it. And I never looked back.

Getting it right

I tried the songwriting dream — tried hard, for most of my twenties. I played the Whisky. I spent loads of money, made demo tapes, shopped tunes, got a couple of them licensed even, played a lotta gigs.

Then finally I realized it wasn’t making me happy, let it go, and moved on to find a new dream.

That new dream led to a ton of fun, earnings, and satisfaction. Years of well-paid freelancing, and then staff writing, and then freelancing again.

And then, starting this blog to share what I knew. Next, launching Freelance Writers Den, and creating a business that helps thousands of people and has made me financially secure.

None of it would have happened if I was still sitting in my room singing songs to myself and hoping some day I might be a singer-songwriter — but never going for it for fear of finding out I couldn’t cut it.

Facing that reality and learning exactly why that career wasn’t a fit for me gave me the insight I needed to find the right path.

How dreams come true

Dreams are born in our heads, but they’re forged and perfected in the fire of experience.

I had a dream of being a kind of writer, and by trying, I became one — just a bit different kind of writer than I originally imagined.

With no experience, your dream stays a vague notion that might or might not even be something you’d like, if you really tried it.

You might discover that though you imagined it would be awesome, in reality you hate meeting editors’ demands, or conducting interviews, or writing business copy, or having to endlessly hustle for gigs.

But there might be something related, two steps removed or just around the corner from that first big dream you had, that you’d love. And you’re wasting precious time not finding out.

Ever have a dream die? Leave a comment and tell us what you tried, and how you moved on.

 

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68 comments on “Why You Need to Go For Your Freelance Writing Dream Now
  1. Dave says:

    Aviation. Always wanted in but the price tag is too steep. Aerodynamics is a lot of rot; it’s money that makes airplanes fly… Even if I had the money drop in my lap today, I’m pretty much too old to pursue that now. I also learned, by talking to someone else who had a marginal pilot career that it probably wouldn’t have worked well for me. Too much time far away from home. There’s two types of pilots he realized (and shared) – single and divorced. He was one of the lucky exceptions that left the pilot part while he still had a good marriage.

  2. Danyelle says:

    Oh, this is great. I have such an issue with over-estimating people. I’m in therapy. Just kidding. But seriously, I had the same dream– to sing professionally. I don’t like drunks either. I think that’s why I love your work, it just resonates with my own mind chatter and new dreams.

  3. Cherese Cobb says:

    I went to school to become an elementary teacher. I stuck my nose in a book daily and graduated Magna Cum Laude even though had a ton against me. I had to bike miles to school and take care of my mother. Student teaching came and while I loved the kids, I hated everything else. The politics, the staffs’ drama, and the fact that teachers told me that I was too soft-hearted. They wanted me to come in looking like a bull-dog to earn kids respect. I hated it with every fiber of my being. It literally made me sick. After graduation, I fell into depression for a year while going back and forth on whether to teach (My family really needed the money). Then one day, I just admitted to my family that I didn’t want to. I wanted to be a writer. I wrote in highschool for the newspaper staff and won poetry contests. I felt free! Sometimes I feel a little lost on what to do next,but I am learning thanks to Linda Formechelli, Sophie Lizard, and you–Carol!

    • Carol Tice says:

      I know so many people with similar stories to yours, Cherese — they trained to be a lawyer, a teacher, a doctor…only to realize they didn’t want that career. And I think the cause of so much illness is forcing ourselves to do things that are against our nature.

      If you did some high school reporting, you’ve probably got the basics of what it takes to write articles for paying markets, too. Best of luck with it!

  4. Jen says:

    Hey Carol!

    Just FYI – I think that post is exactly what I needed to hear; also, undoubtedly one of the most inspiring things read online. Ever!

    In the midst of marketing plans and hunting for clients and doing research, we often forget how important inspiration can be.

    Thanks so much!
    Jennifer

  5. tobyo says:

    Okay, I’ll bite. I’ve had a dream of becoming a freelance writer. I love to write! oh but “what have you written?” um….stammer, stammer, really just stuff on my blog and a couple other things on other blogs. I found your site when I googled “become a writer” or something like that. I have been working finance jobs (all types of accounting, financial analysis, etc.) for most of my career, about 30 years now and I hope to retire in 5-6 years. While I am very good at what I do, there’s no passion in it. I keep thinking about 5-6 years from now and just hangin’ on for dear life! yea, that is no way to live is it? but I have to pay the bills you see….therein lies an issue, a big issue. So I wondered about starting out part-time-like doing freelance. but…..how does one get started? I got one idea from this post: enter a contest! but there must be other ways. I need to peruse your site a bit more for starters but if you have other ideas, I’m all ears! thanks for a very interesting and inspiring post that got me thinking…….again………

  6. Nicole says:

    This kind of advice is, of course, very positive. If you don’t write, then you don’t get anywhere at all. However, just taking the dive to become completely freelance is also something that should be taken with some caution.

    There’s a right time and a right place – it’s not always just about “doing it”.

  7. I had. Many, many times. Failure after failure. Dead dream after dead dream.

    Moreover, I was raised in a way that at first failure seemed completely unacceptable for me. Failure – not an option. Never. If you fail, you are a looser, you should be ashamed and hide in a darkest corner possible. You will carry that mark of disaster forever.

    That attitude, naturally, brought more failures and more dreams that died. But step by step, one personal tragedy (I am sounding overly dramatic, am I not?) after another… And I realized that, well, I have failed again. But that’s an opportunity to learn a thing or two and to get some valuable experience. It’s not pleasant, yes, however, it is neither remotely close to being a reason for curling up into a ball of misery and lamenting my sad fate. The faster you move on, the better. How to do that? It’s different for every person and every situation.

    There’s a cool post from Seth Godin’s blog about failures in general: http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2014/01/but-what-if-i-fail.html
    Joan Anderssen recently posted…IT for Writers: How Being Geek Contributes to Your Freelance Writing BusinessMy Profile

  8. This article is so true. I trained for a number of years to do a job which, when it came around to it, I realised did not make me happy.
    After two years grinding myself away at said job I finally decided that enough was enough and packed my bags, left the job and my home country, the UK, for Spain where I’ve been ever since, writing and teaching.
    It’s all paying off too as I am on the verge of publishing my first book and hoping to open my own school next year, as well as beginning to seriously think about entering into the freelance writing scene.
    So yes! If you don’t want it, don’t do it! Life’s too short!
    Davey Northcott recently posted…On the theme of snow … : To Walk Into the WoodsMy Profile

  9. Charli Mills says:

    Your reflection got me thinking. Actually, I’ve let the writing dream die several times. First, I was a voracious story-teller who penciled 10-page spelling stories throughout 7th- and 8th-grade. Then I got to high school and encountered my strict grammarian teacher who squashed the creativity right out of me in the name of correctness. But she taught me grammar. Which landed me a small-town newspaper job. But I didn’t like reporting. After I had three kids (four if I count my perpetual toddler of a husband), I went back to college and graduated with an English–Writing degree. I was going to write the American novel. But I had nothing interesting to say. I raised the kids, hung out with the hubby and used my writing skills to forge a marketing career and I got into genealogy, fly-fishing, natural food…you know, life. I started freelancing while working, yet the more i wrote, the more that dream of writing fiction haunted me. Kids are raised, I excused myself from work and my husband is forgiving that I don’t make a lot of money writing, but I am writing the dream I once had. Only, life’s ups and downs taught me so much, gave me ideas and stories, and a voice.
    Charli Mills recently posted…Warm Like Melting Ice Day 26My Profile

  10. Whitney says:

    Thanks for writing this. I’d had this fantasy of starting a vintage blog for a while, and for the same reasons you list, I kept it a fantasy. I finally started it, and boy am I learning quickly–it’s not as glamorous as I thought it’d be, there’s a lot of technical issues and scheduling challenges, and building an audience is hard. But I’m liking it a lot, and I’m really, really glad I took it out of the idea bubble above my head and started making it a reality. Your article is great motivation to keep on truckin’, so thanks!

  11. Sorilbran says:

    Ah! I know this story. It’s very similar to my own rock n’ roll tale. Cool gigs, uncool gigs, a record, a royalty check here and there. Good times. I am a retired from gigging, but I still hear new songs dancing around my head. But I digress.

    My first job as a freelance writer was an eBook. I had never read an eBook but I did some research, wrote the book and waited on pins and needles to find out from my client if I did it right. I find that’s the best way to learn. Say yes more than you say no. You can always learn as you go. Like Mike Michalowicz says, you only need 20 seconds of bravery to change your life.

    I’ve been reading your blog for the past few months and it’s been enormously helpful in helping me to navigate changing my freelance writing business. I appreciate you.
    Sorilbran recently posted…The 5 Deadly Sins of Running a Freelance Writing BusinessMy Profile

  12. Rob says:

    I wanted to be James Bond when I was a kid. Fortunately, I didn’t pursue that career path, but blew it by not pursuing another career option. If I couldn’t be James Bond, I wanted to write bestsellers like Ian Fleming did with his series of Bond novels. Why didn’t I? Everyone said you had to be someone special to be a successful writer. They were vague about what “special” meant, but made it clear that it didn’t include me. Now I know what special means — it means the special ability to pursue your dreams in spite of what others say.
    Rob recently posted…How to become a digital nomadMy Profile

  13. Jean Lamb says:

    Oh, my. I was going to be next hot new fantasy writer. I made the mistake of writing fanfiction for an author who was very, very supportive of it. And some of the um, apprentices appeared to make it, too. But then that author offered me some money for a fanfiction novel I’d written ‘just in case I end up using part of it’–however, the contract appeared to be a little more open-ended than that, and I backed out.

    Oops. Bad mistake. Turns out that the author was a great deal more influential in that part of the publishing world than I thought. I did sell some hard SF stories to people who couldn’t care less, but I really love writing fantasy.

    So I have three novels self-pubbed up on Amazon. So there!

  14. Chris says:

    Hi Carol,
    This is so perfectly timed for me! Thank you. This week I resigned from an internship that was to end with the lucrative position of editor-in-chief for a powerful news website. I was to the point of reporting directly to the CEO of the parent company. But it had also developed into a 24/7 on-call job. He would contact me even at midnight; writing stints to meet deadlines could take 14 hours straight. Sometimes his praise would be lavish, yet other times his diatribes could be devastating. But I kept thinking, “Editor-in-chief, good money, get my name out there more,” etc. In the meantime I saw very little of my family, was developing a shake I thought might be some kind of middle-aged nerve disease, and slept in three hour shifts. I finally focused on what I wanted for my writing and my life, and much to my surprise, I had no interest in being editor-in-chief for a news website at all. And I had no interest in a 24/7 job with an explosive boss. Needless to say, he thought I was insane for passing up this opportunity, but I have so much peace now. I had started seriously freelancing last fall and loved it, but then got waylaid by this. Now I’m back and happier than ever. And guess what…my ‘nerve disease’ problem has disappeared and I slept for nine hours straight. Life is good!

  15. Zoe Uwem says:

    Hi Carol,

    Your experience is quite similar to mine.
    I also had this dream of becoming a superstar singer-songwriter. But the trouble was this: it only started and ended in my room and with a few friends of mine who also had the same kind of dream.

    I’d stay in my room writing plenty of songs (I wrote over 60 songs and those songs are still in the pages of my song book, closed.)

    I would day-dream and imagine me on stage rocking, making all the money in the world, signing those autographs, waving at my fans, closing that multi-million dollar deal with that fortune 500 company, maybe so as to appear on their ads on a continental TV and so on.

    Then I tried singing in the choir in my local church but left after I experienced the reality of being a singer in the real world.
    I even tried going to the studio for recording, going for music auditions and rehearsals, too.

    But all these came to nothing after trying to pursue my music dream in the real-world.

    Many things happened but I however found another dream.

    To Just like you Carol, I was amazed that the world could and would pay me to write.
    With writing being what I love, I began pursuing my new-found dream.

    And to summarize it, I just got my freelance-writing business and my blog started this month.

  16. Marcie says:

    I left my job in 2008 to be a freelance writer. After a half-assed attempt (I don’t think I can call it that) at submitting query letters to a few publications and getting rejected, I got discouraged. At that time, blogging was all the rage and I got hooked. But I wasn’t making money from it.

    This year I am on a mission to bring my dreams to life. I am armed with my pen and paper, ready to conquer rejection and any other opposition that comes my way. It’s time to get paid for what I love to do and to share my gifts with others.
    Marcie recently posted…Why Do Winners Win?My Profile

  17. Katherine says:

    I began as a veterinary student ( in college, not at birth!) and couldn’t pass chemistry to save my life. It had been my chikdhood and teenage dream to be a vet, but I was paying for college myself and had no time to waste. I switched to Journalism, as I knew I could write. Got a job for a regional newspaper fresh out of school, writing news (covered the terrible Providence College fire in’77, a major teacher’s strike where the teachers were arrested,etc) and I hated it. I hated asking the teachers who were being dragged to police vans from the court house how they felt. I moved on to non-profit management, by chance, and then to many other things in a ridiculously diverse work life that has not earned me much money over its 35 year span. And now I want to write again, as a freelancer. Can’t seem to make myself actually do it, though I’m getting closer. I waste too much time on the internet trying to figure out how to really get going, instead of just doing it! Hope springs eternal.

  18. Tom Bentley says:

    Carol, fascinating stuff about your music career. (Though there might be a post-grad version of American Idol coming round, so perhaps it’s time to practice again.) After I woke up from my professional baseball dreams, writing for a living was my mushy goal. Mushy because I could paper the inside and the outside of my house with all the rejection letters I received.

    But we are forged by fire: I’ve traveled multiple avenues of writing gigs, from in-house editor and in-house copywriter to freelancing as both, with lots of magazine work on the side, to being full-time on my own and not looking back. Took some stumbles—and there are sure more to come—but it beats putting sparkplugs in tiny boxes and then putting those boxes in bigger boxes, which was one of my fine jobs way back when.
    Tom Bentley recently posted…Unmasking a Member of the Story CartelMy Profile

  19. Lisa says:

    I feel like you based this post on something I said. I have said many times that taking no action allows me to hold onto the dream.
    I need to learn how to embrace failure. Thanks for showing how failure can lead you to your path.

  20. Angie says:

    I was going to be a vet, from the time I was about 8 years old, all the way until I graduated high school. I headed to college, confident I’d breeze through my undergrad studies on my way to vet school.

    Unfortunately, college life with its HUGE class size, poor access to one-on-one time with professors, and an overwhelming social environment for a major introvert just did not agree with me.

    Then I was going to be a famous novelist, but we all know where that dream ends up for those of us who aren’t named Stephen King. 😉

    I lost sight of any real dreams for more years than I care to mention, until I found myself slogging away at a farm job (I’ve had a rather colorful work history) and realized I really wanted to be writing. Fiction remains a tough way to make a living, so I started looking into nonfic. I sold a couple of magazine articles, but my heart wasn’t really in it.

    I finally connected with another writer on Twitter who referred me to my first *real* client. I realized I actually kinda like this copywriting thing, and I haven’t looked back since. That was about three years ago, and building up to a real living has been a long, slow road. But it’s finally paying off – I’ve got a cool $3000 worth of work on my plate for this month. My biggest month so far.

    Which is my really long-winded way of saying that sometimes your dream just takes a really twisty road to get to you. 😉
    Angie recently posted…Wanna win a $25 Amazon gift card? Read on!My Profile

  21. Linda says:

    I had flashbacks reading this post. I wanted to be a scriptwriter and write a screenplay that would be a great murder/mystery/romance. One cold weekend in Nebraska I spent the entire time–using an electric typewriter–writing a complete novel. I’d already done the research, knew the setting, had characters developed, the entire scenario. I remember starting it on Friday night when I got home from work, and by Sunday night had the pages of the entire novel spread across the floor of my apartment before putting it together. It was perfect. A few people read it and loved it. Then I moved to another place and moved to California, and I lost the entire manuscript. Everything.

    Since coming here I’ve wanted to write for television. My bookshelves are filled with books about characters, plots, poisons and weapons, the works. But I let that idea die when a couple of TV series ended. I’d studied the characters, begun a few ideas, but zip, nada, zero.

    Loved this post, Carol. It hits so many buttons and I see others relate. What a great reflection of how perseverance and switching gears pays off. Another of your great posts filled with wisdom and insight. You truly are a blessing to the freelance writing world, Carol.
    Linda recently posted…What Do You Say When an Interviewer Asks — Why Should I Hire You?My Profile

  22. Casey says:

    Carol, thanks for putting that personal and inspiring story out here for us! It’s one of the only times I’ve ever seen anyone draw out the mind-body connection so clearly in regard to career paths and art.

    My experience in broadcast journalism was similar, although not nearly as glamorous! I loved writing and thought that reporting and producing would be a way to indulge my love of writing and telling stories while bringing home a steady paycheck. What I didn’t count on was the constant race for scoops, the behind-the-scenes tension, massive egos, and constant state of reactivity to new developments and what the competition was up to. I was stressed and sick all the time. Switching to freelance was the best move I ever made, in terms of my health and, as it turns out, in financial terms, too.

    • Carol Tice says:

      OMG, I loooove doing radio! I did a monthly show at KPFK Los Angeles for several years. That’s why I do so many podcasts now. Don’t ask me why broadcasting doesn’t freak me the way live singing did…maybe because I can’t see the people? 😉

  23. Good recent article for writers on the subject of “if not now, when?”: http://www.writing-world.com/coffee/coffee73.shtml.

    I see a lot of shadows in this conversation of the common, faulty, and debilitating assumption “better never to try than not to get it EXACTLY right the first time,” one of those ideas that feels surprisingly logical despite being so obviously irrational on close examination. (Side note: There are enough ideas like that floating around to fill an article of their own–and “humans tend to make the logical decision” probably belongs on the list!) Anyway, I have a similar struggle going on right now with my chosen-path-to-the-dream–the struggle not to make “sticking to the plan” more important than the dream itself! Ever caught yourself putting an unexpected but obviously Priority A task after three Priority C’s because the latter were “there [on the day’s schedule] first”?
    Katherine Swarts recently posted…Time for a ChangeMy Profile

  24. Loved this, Carol. So inspirational – and true.

    I shared this with several friends and posted to WriteLifeWorkshops FB so others will be encouraged and blessed.

    Thanks for using your gifts to make a difference for all of us.

  25. Carol, I had no idea you were a singer-songwriter in your youth! Will you ever share some of your rock lyrics with us?

    I’ve had lots of dreams come and go, and I agree with you that you have to get out there and give it a try if you want them to come true. And sometimes, when they DO come true, you find they’re more of a nightmare! But at least you find out what you’re good at, what you won’t put up with, and can use all of what you’ve learned to rework that old dream and make it into something that’s better for you in the long run.

    As you’re always showing us, there are paid writing opportunities everywhere. You just have to figure out what kind of writing suits you best, and the only way to do that is to give it a try. Thanks for sharing your rock star dream with us. 🙂
    Laura Roberts recently posted…69 Sexy Haiku: Leather and latexMy Profile

  26. What a great story; it’s amazing what our bodies can tell us if we just listen. Thanks for sharing this and helping so many people learn how to listen to their hearts — and guts — to get going in the right direction. And for teaching them how to use their heads to make it work.
    Tammy Ditmore recently posted…Where Does a Freelance Editor Find Clients?My Profile

  27. :-0

    I had a very similar experience songwriting and fronting bands in my late teens — except that I was OK with the chaos. It was hearing my words amplified live that freaked me out (and still does) so much that my voice shrank and hid. Foldback monitors made me feel sick.

    Weird phobia, huh? But that’s what made me realise I enjoyed the gig reviews I wrote more than the gigs I played. So bizarre to read your story and see the similarities!
    Sophie Lizard recently posted…How to Succeed As a Marketing Agency WriterMy Profile

  28. Jane Hendy says:

    HI Carol

    Excellent advice as usual. I’ve actually taken your advice to heart and left my fears behind (OK, I’ll admit they are still there but squashed) and I’ve been pitching and networking and believing in my ability.

    I’ll let you know how well that pays off!
    Jane Hendy recently posted…Why you should write for niche marketsMy Profile

    • Carol Tice says:

      Not to keep harping on The War of Art…but he talks about how fear never goes away. That shouldn’t be a goal. It’s just doing the work despite it. It’s Henry Fonda throwing up before every single performance of his life. You just keep going.

      • Devona says:

        I guess I need to jump on Amazon and order that book. Carol, your comment just clarified something I’ve been dealing with emotionally for a long time, but I’ve never put into words. I realized that when I am considering if I am cut out for something, I partly measure it by my level of fear, as in, if I am so afraid to write, should I be writing? Or should I be doing something that comes more easily?

  29. Elke Feuer says:

    Great post, Carol! My dream has always been to be a writer, but when I kept getting rejected, I had to get a job to pay the bills.

    Thankfully I found something I did enjoy, Project Management, but I never gave up on my writing dream. In 2008 I made the decision to take real action to accomplish it instead of just adding it to my resolutions each year. Four years later I published my first book, and have a great writing group that supports local writers. In additional, I got my first offer to write for a magazine.

    Working another job, as much as I like it, helped me realize that I should be writing.
    Elke Feuer recently posted…Cover Reveal — The Right DesignMy Profile

  30. My clue that I should freelance began officially eight years ago when I looked at my mom’s recently expired body lying in a hospice bed on a January morning and realized that in thirty years, that would be me. If I didn’t start pursuing my dream of being seriously published, time would keep on ticking and leave me behind. I decided I’d have the bulk of the book I was writing on an editor’s desk before Thanksgiving. I had a good hunch this editor would like my work, and he did, and he published the book and another one a few years later. I realized I could do this, that ordinary people do it all the time, that the only thing that makes us extraordinary is DOING IT. I have nothing to lose by trying, and everything to lose by not trying.
    Jean Hoefling recently posted…On Thumbprints and Discovering Your Writer’s VoiceMy Profile

  31. Hi, I started a “green” renovation and property management company when I was 59. I still have some property, but the renovation company blew up with the real estate bubble. It cost me a bundle, but I learned a great deal and look back on it kindly. There is a saying in golf; “never up,never in”. The saying means, that if you don’t hit a putt hard enough, it will never go in the hole. I think that you have to hit writing hard enough too.

  32. I’m pursuing freelancing more seriously this year because I finally came to grips with the fact that I am probably not cut out for the “normal” workplace, for a lot of reasons. Thank you for sharing your story, with its excellent ending. As Maria chirped so optimistically in Sound of Music, “When God closes a door, he opens a window.”

  33. Mike Johnson says:

    Very inspiring and nicely written!

  34. I was meant to be a dancer. Only after ten years in ballet class did it become apparent that I would never grow a foot taller or develop natural turnout. It was apparent to everyone else, by the way. When I was eighteen, the director of my small-town ballet company took me aside and said, “You don’t have the body for this. If you try to dance professionally, you’re going to develop an eating disorder or a coke habit. I’d hate to see that happen.”

    Fortunately for all of us, no one will say that to you about writing.

    Fortunately for me, I was already a writer. It just took me a while to figure out how to earn a living doing it.
    Juli Anne Patty recently posted…How the Internet is Better than ProzacMy Profile

    • Carol Tice says:

      Man, for me, I loved gymnastics! I could totally have gone nuts in that and seen myself training for the Olympics.

      But I had poor upper-body strength and couldn’t do a pullover, the basic move you need for all the parallel bar work. On to the next dream…

      I had a good high school friend who was a competitive figure skater until a knee injury. She ended up designing costumes for the Ice Follies and traveling with them everywhere, still enjoying being in that world in her own way. We can find another road if one turns out to be closed off.

  35. Lori says:

    Carol,
    Your timing is eerily perfect for me. While I’ve written and published for almost 13 years now, I walked away from teaching four years ago to really give this writing dream a go. In my mind I’ve failed to be where I should be by now and am seriously looking at returning to teaching. If I really wanted to be a successful writer, why haven’t I queried, marketed, amped my income? I do okay, but I’m a perfectionist and mediocrity doesn’t fulfill me. How embarrassing that after four years my earnings are still woefully less than I made teaching. And I’m asking myself those questions you mention–am I cut out for this? Do I love interviews, editor demands, networking? No. Can I do them and when I do, feel pretty good that I did them? Sure, but it’s a constant battle. It’s time to make a decision and maybe it’s not horrible to admit failure. Maybe I needed to do this in order to be a stronger writing teacher. I don’t know but it is time to find out.
    Thanks for your insightful post.

    Lori

    • Carol Tice says:

      Sounds like a tough decision, Lori.

      I think one of the most toxic things freelancers do is create timetables by which they should have done X and then beat themselves up if they don’t measure up to that standard. Or compare their journey to how fast someone else did it. There’s nothing to be gained there.

      I know freelancers who quit to freelance and two years later hadn’t taken a single action, and others who replaced their lawyer income three months in. Everyone’s journey is their own.

      I’m lucky that when I started freelancing in 2005, at first I didn’t realize I was building an ongoing business! I just wanted to scare up some income while I was looking for another full-time job. I was at least 6-9 months in before I realized it was looking like maybe it would work better to just keep freelancing!

      I think you’re asking the right questions. Have you read The War of Art? Just read it on my trip, and you might want to take a look at that to learn about the role resistance is playing in your inaction, and how you might overcome it. Strongly recommend that book to anyone having trouble taking the actions they want to in their creative career.

      • Lori says:

        I agree, and yet life sometimes puts us in a position where there is suddenly less time. Then I thought, if I’m really pushed to the edge, I’ll do it. So far, not. I will absolutely check out the book. Maybe understanding my resistance is what I need.

        • Carol Tice says:

          It’s a very terse, quick read just packed with nuggets of wisdom. One of the best: It was easier for Hitler to start WWII than it was to be an artist. 😉

    • Lori, I was a teacher, too. (I’ve kept my certification current to this day, as well.) Although my situation is different from yours, I’d like to ask you one thing: have you considered other earning options when it comes to writing? Like writing a novel and self-publishing it? I’m curious.
      Lorraine Reguly recently posted…A Nurse Thought My Ex Beat Me Up!My Profile

      • Lori says:

        Hi Lorraine,
        I just renewed my credential just in case. Knowing I have that option is possibly the crutch I’m using. I’ve definitely given hours (way too many) to the idea of writing books, yet have never begun. I’d like to find that place between writing and interacting with kids. I love doing both. I’m at this new place in my life where I need to seriously prepare for my family’s future. The thought of health insurance, a reliable paycheck and retirement make practical sense. Did you find it easy to jump into writing a novel?

        • Tracy says:

          Lori,
          A lot of what you said was very familiar to me- I quit teaching in June of 2012 and have not made nearly as much progress as I would have liked. Good luck to you!
          Tracy recently posted…Three Free Career Aptitude TestsMy Profile

        • Yes, actually, I did. However, what I’ve discovered while working on my autobiographical memoir is that (1) while writing about my own life is easy, it’s tough dealing with the emotional side of things when writing about bad past experiences and (2) writing fiction is MUCH easier – like SO much easier!

          It’s important for me to continue with my memoir project because I want my family and future generations of my family to know what I’ve been through (and gosh, there’s a lot of sordid experiences) and how I was able to move my life forward despite having odds stacked against me. Plus, I think my story will serve as an inspiration to others.

          Where fiction is concerned: I’ve written several short stories and am gathering them together to form an ebook. I’m also planning on a fictional mystery down the road.

          Keeping current with certification is a great idea – especially if re-certification requires extra work. In my case, if I simply pay the dues each year, I’m good to go.

          As far as your situation goes, why not combine your two passions together and write children’s books? Who better to write them than you? You could write educational ones, entertaining ones – whatever. In today’s age of self-publishing, anything is possible (plus self-pubbers get to keep more royalties). It’s worth a think.
          Lorraine Reguly recently posted…A Nurse Thought My Ex Beat Me Up!My Profile

  36. Thanks for sharing your story. I also think that its important for writers to remember that all types of writing are not created equal and sometimes you just need to try a different type of writing.

    My dream was always to write a novel, but my dad convinced me that I needed to pay the bills so I ended up getting a degree in Tech Writing. It seemed like a good compromise. The pay was great. I could write. And it would make my family proud.

    The only problem was that I was TERRIBLE at tech writing. But I was very good at getting information from the SME’s as well as project managing, so I managed to pretty much hide my distaste for tech writing for several years. I even got a Masters degree in Tech writing in hopes that I would suddenly have a light bulb moment. I really just found it boring and since I am not a detail person it just wasn’t a fit.

    But when I started freelancing, I found that I am very good at writing business and technology articles, just not updating the same manual for 3 years in a row. I love all of the marketing and strategy of running my own business as well as the variety. And that is enough to make me push through the boring times.

    So, it’s possible that a writer who doesn’t like doing a certain type of writing, may find their fit in another area.
    Jennifer Gregory recently posted…The Role of Luck and Timing in Getting a Content Marketing Writing Gig: The Importance of Following UpMy Profile

  37. Daryl says:

    Carol,

    My dream is seeing you with a mohawk, glittery shirt, and spandex pants as you belt out your newest song.

    🙂

    But on another note, my first blog didnt last very long (about 6 months) before I decided to call it quits.
    Daryl recently posted…What Nobody Tells You About Writing a Successful Guest Post PitchMy Profile

    • Carol Tice says:

      Wasn’t that kind of a rocker, sorry to disappoint, Daryl!

      But right on about the blog — if you didn’t try that one and iterate from there, you wouldn’t be here now.

      People forget that Jon Morrow had a first blog about financial stuff. I think Jeff Goins said he had several blogs that failed before GoinsWriter. This blog started on my writer site and only later grew up and became something I posted on regularly.

      I think I’m very lucky to have spent more than a decade covering startups and learning about fast iteration as the route to success.

      Freelance writing is a startup business like any other, and rapidly trying many strategies leads you to the right way to go about this career for you. Sitting and thinking and wondering what is the one, best, lowest-cost, fastest way to ramp your freelancing means you gain no knowledge of the marketplace and don’t discover how to succeed.

  38. Tom Crawford says:

    I notice certain parallels to my own story, Carol (but I was never a singer!) Very interesting.

    When speaking with other aspiring freelance writers or bloggers, it’s usually their attitude which delays them more than their writing skills. The rationalizations are the real killer, which your first paragraph summed up perfectly. I hope your blog readers see this post, and take lots of action as a result.
    Tom Crawford recently posted…Are You Committing These 10 Blog Post Mistakes?My Profile

  39. Joe Jamieson says:

    Thanks for bringing this to the attention of the masses, Carol.

    “Just start!” – The best piece of advice I’ve ever received.

    Lack of self belief is something that holds most people back. Waking up and telling myself that achieving my dreams is possible is something I do every day.

    Only since I started doing this (and eventually believing it) have I made any real progress.

    People are afraid they’ll be exposed as a frauds, or that they’re simply not good enough. The hilarious truth is that no one really knows what they’re doing until they start.

    Just start.
    Joe Jamieson recently posted…What Is Mindfulness and Why Do Nomads Need It?My Profile

    • Carol Tice says:

      You know, I see your CommentLuv post is about mindfulness, so I’ll just share that right now I’m reading “When Things Fall Apart” by Pema Chodron. And one of the things I love most that she says in it is, “Nobody anywhere really knows what’s going on.”

      We live in a world of delusion where we imagine everyone else has it together and we’re the ones who’re freaks because we feel uncertain about how to proceed. When really there is no solid ground ever, and it’s all change.

      Once we start down the path we’re drawn to creatively, then we can travel the road to where we belong. It will often have twists and turns we don’t expect. But if we don’t start to walk, we’ll never see how our journey evolves.

      • Lizz says:

        More stuff for my “I really needed to hear this” file…thank you!

      • Joe Jamieson says:

        It seems as though Pema Chodron is an insightful human being.

        In my post I talk about how the present moment is the only moment we have. It’s the only moment that’s real. The past and future don’t exist.

        No good comes from putting off your dreams due to worry. We have to plan for possible outcomes, but worrying and planning are two very different things.

        Get going, everyone.
        Joe Jamieson recently posted…How to Embrace Your Failures for Maximum WinMy Profile

      • Grace says:

        Carol, I love that line: “But if we don’t start to walk, we’ll never see how our journey evolves.”

        In terms of my writing career, I feel like I’ve been spending a lot of time trying to map the unknown territory ahead before I’ll risk exploring it. Which has been working out about as well as anyone might expect–in other words, I’ve been paralyzed! But your comment was a reminder that maybe what I really need to do now is just take the first little step and see what happens, rather than worry about “Is this right? Is it perfect?”, etc.

      • Julie says:

        Carol said, “We live in a world of delusion where we imagine everyone else has it together and we’re the ones who’re freaks because we feel uncertain about how to proceed.”

        That’s kind of how I feel. I’ve had some degree of success already as a freelance writer, but I’ve also had my shares of ups and downs. As far as failure is concern, it’s not an option for me at this point. There’s way too much at stake right now.

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