Are you serious about your writing? Sure, you may have taken several workshops designed to improve your grammar, teach you the art of creating professional manuscripts or how to keep your query letter from being tossed in the trash can.
What if this is not enough? Can you be certain that your not simply investing time into a hobby? In the beginning, most new writers are excited to see their name in print and rush out to buy extra copies. The dream of obtaining a monthly income a a freelance writer becomes a potential possibility. Now what?
There are many new writers who may be overlooking some important succesful writing habits that are not only essential for becoming published but absolutely necessary for long term success. In my own personal experience as a stay at home mom, I have observed that there are important requirements a serious freelance writer must do to ensure a long writing career. There are obvious skills a writer must have, which may include but not be limited to strong writing skills, understanding the slant of their targeted market, taking time to read and follow submission guidelines, knowledge of how to write a query letter, and ability to construct a professional manuscript. In addition to these very important skills, anyone who desires to turn their passion of writing into a long term paying career must also have some not so obvious skills. Some of these ideas may already by familiar to you, others may not.
CREATE A BUSINESS PLAN
It does not matter if you only plan to submit one article, poem or story each month, you will still need a plan of action. Please don’t allow yourself to be intimidated by this step. No one but you needs to see this plan. It is for your eyes only. For those of you who are not so shy, sharing with a trustworthy friend or family member may be a way you
can receive some useful feedback. A well-written business plan will help you to understand what your expectations are for your writing.
Before you can write your plan, it is suggested that you ask yourself a couple questions. How many stories, poems or articles do you wish to write each month /week? How long does it take for a finished product to be completed (on average)? How many drafts do you write before the finished manuscript? The more you understand what your personal writing process is and what is realistic for you, the more successful you will become. How many hours a week do you typically write now? How many hours could you add if your were too become more serious about your writing? While deciding how many hours you are able to write each week, you may want to remember that you will also need time each week to research as well as to find time for record keeping . Don’t forget any writing workshops you may want to take so you can brush up on your skills. Did I mention you will also want to read as much as you can? Using a business plan will provide you with structure and will help you to keep track of your progress.
ARE YOU ORGANIZED?
You may be wondering how your going to eat with all the writing and researching you will be doing. When will you do laundry? Who will care for the kids? This may not be a challenge for some of you and if that is true for you, then congratulations.However for the rest of us, this may be a formidable task. We all know how important it is to write everyday, but what about the kids, pets and plants? If you are anything like me, You may find yourself getting lost in your writing and losing track of time, before you know it there is a hungry mob in front of you demanding their dinner. Or maybe, you are suffering from writer’s Block and your mind can’t help but wander to the always growing laundry pile or the list of phone calls you need to make.
Although, you may not need an actual plan of action for your household chores and other daily living activities, you may find it useful to have on hand a calendar or day planner. Some freelancers may find it helpful to plan meals in advance and do their Grocery shopping and other errands on one specific day each week. Most professionals recommend writing at the same time every day. I have found over the years that this has not proven to be effective for me. I prefer to set daily writing goals and alternate my writing and researching with household chores and family activities. The important factor to remember is to do what works best for you. What is realistic for you and your family? What can you reasonably expect from yourself? Don’t try working late at night after the kids are asleep if your eyes grow heavy at 8pm.
HOW FLEXIBLE ARE YOU?
With all that planning, be sure you don’t become too rigid. If your long lost brother drops into town and will be leaving on an early dawn flight, allow yourself time to catch up. You only live once. One of the benefits of working as a freelance writer is that you can be flexible with your time. The same goes for the writing process. Unless you have a deadline that is growing closer by the minute, you can pace yourself. If your really stumped, take a day or two break from your current writing assignment and perhaps start an outline for a new story or essay. Whenever I have a case of serious writer’s block, I like to go through publication databases looking for fresh contacts.
REMEMBER TO FOLLOW UP
Editors are people too; in fact they are often a lot nicer than we sometimes imagine. New Writers are warned heavily that if they are not perfect in their research and presentation, Their queries and cover letters will be lost forever. The truth is that most editors receive A large amount of submissions on a daily basis. Be patient, it takes a long time to go Through all that paperwork. Most editors will write to you even if they don’t use your Copy. sometimes, your work will still fall through the cracks. If it is several weeks past the Suggested time frame for a return reply, then please feel free to send a short letter with your resubmitted copy and a SASE. This is very appropriate and most editors will understand and find time to contact you. If, for some reason you still do not hear back From the editor, then you may want to send a letter or postcard stating that you’re withdrawing your manuscript. This way you can send your written work on to a new Publication.
Don’t despair if you do receive that dreaded pink slip. If you did your research, mailed off a highly professional cover letter and followed the submission guidelines perfectly, but still did not make the cut, remember that it may not be your writing. Don’t take it personally, maybe it is just not what the editor is looking for at this time. Hold your head up, and try again.
You may consider keeping careful records of each story, poem, and essay or article
that you submit. If you receive a letter of rejection, then write why (if you know) and then file away your copy. You may be able to resubmit to a different market. When you do sells you work write it down on a sales record.
If you’re dedicated to the craft of writing, research your market, and engage in successful writing habits, then you will become successful. Allow yourself to dream big. Think about where you want to go. Remember that every notice of decline brings you one step closer to that high paying gig. This will guarantee that your writing will not be a hobby.You will be a serious writer enjoying the career of your dreams.