Thursday, August 28, 2014

20 Myths About Writing

I've been in this game for a long time...a really long time. I've been paid for my writing since I was 14. I will celebrate my 36th birthday in September. I have a lot of experience in the writing field. Here are my 20 myths about writing.

  1. You can only make money by publishing a novel. That's a huge myth. I've self published a novel that's had moderate success. However, the steady income comes in from freelance writing articles, web content, and consulting.
  2. If you write web content, you have to take low page. I hate this myth. So many good writers get screwed over because they think they have to write for content mills or take ridiculous prices. Content mills aren't good for writers. Sure, some will pay a little better than others once you show that you can write well. However, unless you can churn out 10+ articles daily and have them approved by the client you can't talk to (who may have been screwed over by another content mill writer and is in a bad mood) then you won't make much. You also get bottom of the barrel selection for writing. You can't get to know your client or their preferences. You don't have to settle for the low money of content mills or low paying projects. I call those slave wage projects. If writing were so easy, they wouldn't need a writer. It's not your issue if they can't appropriately budget for a writer.
  3. A published clip must be in a magazine. That's wrong. I started an account on and I also used my old blog. Both can be used to show that you know what you are doing as a writer. Just make sure that your blog has a relatively appropriate name. Only clients who need smut writing will want to check out your profile called 1FineTwerkinBehind. Don't do that.
  4. You can write about your favorite thing in the world and make a ton of money. Sure, there's money to be made in writing. Sure, there are projects you will love. However, if you want to make a living as a writer you need to realize that you will have to take projects you don't like (at least in the beginning). You might not like writing news summaries or an opinion piece that you don't agree with, but if you want to feed your family - you will initially take what you can while you build up your reputation and portfolio.
  5. Your schedule is totally flexible. I hate this myth. It's the worst. Sure, being a freelance writer has some being that a bit of flexibility. Your schedule is not totally flexible. Freelancing is a lifestyle, but you must adhere to the schedule you set. I make breakfast, work for a couple of hours, make lunch, take the youngest spawn to afternoon kindergarten, work a little more, pick up the little one, and come home to either work or fulfill household obligations. You will not have time to watch the children of others or do all of their errands that they will tell you that you have time to do if you are managing your own time. By the way, many of your future clients will have some form of a deadline. Further, many of your clients will want to be able to contact you during their regular business hours. That can get interesting if you start taking international clients. You will learn quickly that Google Hangouts can be your best friend.
  6. The editor is always right. No...they're not. I have to play "edit the editor" more times than I care to admit. If the editor is wrong, approach them like a rational and professional human being.
  7. You can work from anywhere. This is a partial myth. If you have a mobile hot spot or you only write for clients on a flat rate or per project basis then you can work any damn where you want. However, if you decide to freelance on an hourly basis then you will be using a time tracker. Odesk and Elance (and most likely every other freelance gig site in existence) has one you download to track your time. That time (and the screenshots to show you are doing your job and fucking around on Twitter -- unless you're being paid to fuck around on Twitter) will be uploaded. So, in general you need to work somewhere that you have access to Internet.
  8. Your children, spouse, friends, and family will feel amazingly proud to know that you're a super awesome writer living the dream and they will respect your family. That's a load of bullshit. Okay, my husband (Bull) is amazingly supportive. At first he didn't really understand how I didn't have time to do this, that, or the other until he offered to take some over flow work from me. The first lesson he learned is that he doesn't want to write for a living although he does love to write. The second he learned is that when you are a writer, it takes longer than those who do not write anticipate. The third he learned is that if I am not actively working, I am not getting paid. That affects the family bottom line. He was supportive from the beginning, but he became very protective of my time for me after he had a tiny taste of my work life. Your children, unless they are much older and mature, won't learn to respect your working time unless you continuously lay down the law about it. Clearly, I stop the very second my five year old needs something. The older two are 13 and 16. Unless they are missing an eye or on fire, it can probably wait. They're pretty good about respecting my work time...because otherwise the Bank of Mom remains closed.
  9. When you announce that you're a writer, people will flock to you for your written brilliance. No, they won't. You must have some form of a website. In addition to this blog, I use Wix. I also have a Facebook fan page and Twitter account. Soon I will also have a YouTube channel. I also use Google+ on a regular basis. I keep myself out there. I also regularly check a lot of places for gigs. You need to market yourself. You need a CV. You need a portfolio. In other words, you need to treat yourself and present yourself like the professional you are.
  10. You need an agent to write a book. That's not necessarily true. I love agents and I think most agents are professional and reputable people who keep the best interests of their clients in mind. Self publishing is now relatively acceptable. Amazon, Create Space, and Lulu make it easy to get your creation on to avenues that allow for download for Kindle and Apple products. Do you want an agent if you want a best seller? Yep. Most publishers won't talk to you without an agent...actually, many publishers won't talk to you if you are trying to pitch your self published novel. It's already published. Be very careful if you decide to self publish.
  11. Any competition or place that asks you for money for an entry fee is a scam. This is a myth. Are there shady people out there? Yep. Most places that want an entry fee for their writing competition or a very nominal reading fee are handing out prize money. Where do you think they get their prize money from? Just do your research on the place asking for your dough. There are a lot of places that don't charge any money, but there's generally nothing paid if they publish your work. Besides, writing competitions are fun. Sometimes their reading panel will respond to you with great feedback.
  12. If you get a rejection on a pitch, query, or submission then you're a terrible writer. This is an awful myth that destroys the self esteem of good writers worldwide. A rejection just means one thing: your work isn't a fit for them right now. It doesn't necessarily mean that you're a bad writer.
  13. Your mom likes your work so you must be good enough to make it in the writing world. My mom hates my fiction work. She doesn't read any of my nonfiction work...and she wouldn't understand most of it even if she did. All she knows and is that I sit in front of a computer and type. If your mom likes your work, she's probably just being nice to you. You need feedback from an unbiased source. If my mom decided that she likes my work, I'd wonder when I changed and started fucking things up.
  14. Being a freelance writer is super exciting and easy. Nope. It's actually a little boring and hard. We don't get water cooler talk. Now, that suits me just fine. I'm so introverted that the Myers-Briggs test can barely chart me. I really don't need a lot of social interaction outside of my family. Granted, I go to school events, football, and some of my husband's shows. I get my social interaction by working at the library and people watching. If you enter the freelance world, you will be shocked by your feelings of isolation. Please get out of the house once in a while. It will help you. Freelancing is hard. A client might cancel a project...and it won't necessarily be because they don't like your work. They may have cancelled the entire project or decided to go a different direction. You may have clients who don't pay or pay late. You may not have enough work. Working from home as a writer means you really don't ever get away from your work. This is not for the faint of heart. If you can't handle risk or uncertainty, this is not the field for you. If you are a good writer, go to work for a marketing company or use Indeed to find jobs with businesses that want an on-site writer.
  15. Writing is stress free because you are doing what you love. Writing is not stress free. Much like I said under #14, you really don't get away from your work. There are no paid sick days. There are no paid vacation days. If you don't work, you don't get paid. The week you have the flu? It will take you longer to recover because you will be worried about money. You will find yourself always thinking about writing or projects. You will have ideas pop into your head when you least expect it. It's very hard to turn off your brain and switch back to family mode.
  16. Writing is creative and awesome. This is a partial myth. To some degree, writing is creative and awesome. It is awesome to be able to get paid for doing it. You will have clients that have a specific way they want their written product. There's very little room for creativity. It can become tedious. Your brain will hurt. You will cry. Yes, even you Mr. Manly Man reading this.
  17. Your writing has to be perfect or you can't be a writer. This is incorrect. If you write for magazines, there will be an editor. If you write for digital magazines, there will be an editor. Should you do your very best to eliminate typos and other basic problems? Yes! That will increase your worth. Your writing just has to make the client happy. Here's my tip: go above and beyond for your client. Even if it is a one time project, you will hear from them in the future. They will remember what you did for them.
  18. You shouldn't write for start up companies. This is one of those partial myths. You should do some research and ask a lot of questions. I have worked and will continue to work with start ups. I ask about their business model, funding, and other things. My goal is to find out how viable they are in the current market. They may not have a huge budget for writing now, but they will appreciate your hard work and input. Don't write for a start up if they want you to do it for free or you have a bad feeling about them. Always trust your gut.
  19. Writing for exposure will get you more clients. No it won't. It gets the person who suckered you some free content. You can create your own exposure for free. They aren't going to tell you their web stats. They can't guarantee your exposure. Once they start making money they most likely won't pay you. Occasionally, I do volunteer my services but it is at my leisure. You won't take me seriously here. You'll end up learning the hard way.
  20. If someone says they are a writer then they clearly know what they are talking about in the industry. No they don't. Anyone can say they are a writer. If they are burning the midnight oil writing the next American best seller, that's pretty cool and I respect that. Novels aren't easy...that doesn't mean that they know a damn thing about writing for money. Be careful who you trust. 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Play nice...the hand that feeds you can also choke you.