Oft times in life, we fail to identify what we truly love, as most of the times we are either following someone else’s trail or we are clueless as to where we are headed for, until we discover a deep void ahead of us at some point, earlier or later. If, doing the things we enjoy doing is going to make us happy, we ought to make the first move. I have had people ask me where to start and how to start as a freelance writer. I have consciously not used the term ‘freelance’ in the title, as it freaks me out even today. It still gives me jitters and it’s not been an easy tread. I have attempted to list out a few things that have helped me to gain the confidence in starting off and continuing with writing independently.
Start a blog: Your writing is your brand in itself. It’s a testimony to your thoughts, you as a person and your beliefs. It comes naturally to you. Therefore, the best place to start off as an independent writer is to start your own blog or website, where YOU get to choose what to write, how to write and when to write. No one can vouch for you as much as your own blog or website can.
Set your writing goals: It is very easy to get swept off in the tide of procrastination and other priorities in life. Writers usually underestimate the amount of dedication and focus required in writing. Having certain goals and deadlines in place will help you in identifying where you are in terms of your writing.
Review your goals regularly: Stick to your goals and revisit them at the end of every week. Indulge in compulsive writing. Defining your goals will benefit you only if you revisit them and review them and if required, tweak them.
Sign-up with a couple of magazines and contribute articles: This will be your first attempt to go public even if it means that you are doing it without a remuneration. You need samples of your best works when you approach a potential client or the client approaches you. Getting published in a reputed medium matters a lot. You must carefully choose the places you want your work to be published. Before submitting your work, go through the works of other authors and gauge for yourself, what kinds of writings are solicited. Depending on the different genres or the different styles of writing, you can choose what best suits your penchant and style.
Go for writer meet ups and events and network: Although your presence and activities on social media are important, nothing can undermine the importance of personal touch. Go out and mingle with people in the same field as you are. That’s when new ideas emerge, that’s when you meet new people and get different perspectives of the same idea. Networking does not mean self-marketing. You do not have to cringe thinking of the idea of marketing your own self. You are just out there to make your creativity visible.
Attempt your first paid writing: Sign-up with popular freelancing websites and look for assignments. Create an impressive profile and start bidding for a project. You may be disappointed with the remuneration in the beginning. But it is better to start off on an assignment and set yourself a stronghold and once clients recognize your potential, you can take an upper hand.
Keep a tab of writing contests, both paid and unpaid and the ones with or without a winning prize: It is a good exercise to challenge yourself. There are scores of writing contests that will tickle your senses and get you to write. Contests that range from flash fiction to novellas. Looking for them and participating in them will give you an overview of the different kinds of fiction and nonfiction works that exist and you can also gauge yourself by finding out what you are really good at. We writers, do not plunge unless we are pushed to the brink and nudged.
Shed your ego: Last but the most important, keep aside your ego for later days, when you establish yourself as a well-known writer, whose work speaks for itself. Learn to handle rejection and dejection at any point. Every writer is possessive about his/her own work. What appeals to you might not appeal to another editor. That’s the reason, you have a blog. It doesn’t take much of an effort to post your favourite work out on your blog if a couple of others refuse to post it.
Most writers are introverts and desist from seeking help in being heard. We believe ‘if my work is good enough, it will see the light of the day’. Yes, it may, but just that it’s going to be too long a night. And before you realize, the sun might have already gone on a long vacation.