Do You Believe You’re a Writer?

By Carol Tice

I received a very moving email message from a longtime professional writer and single mom of two. She’d recently been laid off from a lucrative editing job.

Now, looking out on today’s freelance world full of $15-an-article assignments, she doesn’t know how she will support her family. She’d have to work around the clock at content-mill rates to make ends meet, and doesn’t want to do that kind of work anyway.

“I am just not capable of slapping things together and calling it writing,” she says. “I’m truly afraid that things will not get better.”

Well, she wrote to the right person. Because I’m not afraid. And she needs to be fearless too, and so do you.

In this economy and fast-changing writing landscape, attitude is everything. I believe prospective employers can smell the fear and negativity on applicants from miles off, and they steer clear. And that feeds the cycle of no work, and more fear.

I think the secret of why I’ve had such a successful year is that I never feared. I believe that I am really a talented writer, and that I will continue to find paying clients, no matter what. Somewhere in the enormous, multi-million-dollar sea that is the freelance writing market, there’s enough lucrative work to provide a good living for one little me. I believe it. I’m such a small part of the whole marketplace, that there doesn’t have to be a recession for me. That’s my belief. And that’s why I’ve found good-paying clients, all through this recession.

I am not sitting around mourning the shrinking world of traditional journalism. I’m wide open to new possibilities in my field, so I find them. I sign my cover letters for jobs with “Enjoy!” I am communicating my excitement to everyone I meet at the new opportunities that are arising in the world of writing. I think editors find it refreshing – I’ve often gotten responses with an hour.

When I talk with writers, the ones in the worst shape have very negative attitudes. They don’t believe there’s good-paying work out there for them anymore. They waste time mourning the loss of a job, the loss of the old world of journalism, they want to vent about their raw deal, and mostly they can’t stop wishing things would go back the way they were.

That’s never going to happen. And hiring editors don’t want to hear it. The negativity becomes self-fulfilling prophecy, and when I check back in with them, usually they’ve given up and are looking for full-time jobs, or have decided to be stay-at-home moms and forget about having a writing career for now.

Do you believe in your writing abilities? Do you think there’s a place for you in the new media order – and are you excited by that? Then find the good-paying work that’s waiting for you. I believe it’s out there. Do you?

This post originally appeared on the WM Freelance Writer’s Connection.

2 comments on “Do You Believe You’re a Writer?
  1. Markie says:

    Hi, your website was referred to me since I am looking into freelance writing. I recently became a single mom and I absolutely love to write. I notice you’ve said multiple times to avoid content-mills, where do I begin then? how do I get experience for those higher paying client if I don’t use content mills, and how do I find my first paying job?

    Thank you!

    • Carol Tice says:

      It’s funny to me, as someone who got started before mills existed, how essential so many writers today seem to think mills are.

      Ask yourself: What if mills didn’t exist? What would you do then, to find freelance writing clients? Then, do that.

      The big thing many writers don’t realize is that writing for mills often DOES NOT give you the experience you need to write for higher-paying clients. The types of assignments are different, many editors won’t consider mill writers for assignments because the reputation of these platforms is so poor, and often mill writers don’t know where their pieces end up. You don’t build a portfolio.

      If you need step-by-step resources for how to start a freelance writing career off right, and begin creating clips that give you a pro portfolio that helps you move up, I’ve got two: A new self-study course called Escape the Content Mills, and my e-book The Step by Step Guide to Freelance Writing Success.