Writing is not my number one priority.
It is not even number two or number three. No, if I’m being honest, writing is probably my fifth priority, after family, friends, my job and getting daily exercise, but before television, reading and leaving the toilet seat down.
Even so, I like seeing my words in print. I like being able to Google my name, I like reading reviews of my work (even the bad ones) and I certainly don’t mind the extra cash.
But how do you do it? How do you balance a writing career on top of so many other important things? Most of us are lucky if we can fit an hour of writing into our hectic days.
I like to think of freelance writing in the same way I think of financial investments. Your money is no good if you store it under your mattress or in a piggy bank. You want your money to work for you. And so you place it in all sorts of investments: stocks, bonds, hedge funds, real estate. And you wait for your investments to reap more money.
The same can be said for your writing. You don’t want your writing just sitting on your computer. You want it working for you. At any given time, you want to be able sit back and know that a whole host of editors, publishers and web site managers are reviewing your work. That way, just like with investments, you can make money without having to get off your couch.
Again, how do you do that? Well for starters, you want need to be picky about the assignments you choose to write. Sure, you want to write what you know and all that, but you also want to choose topics that will appeal to a large number of publications.
Say, for instance, your town is having a county fair and you write a short piece for the local newspaper. Whether they choose to run it or not, you know that you will never be able to use that piece again. It will sit on your computer, from now until eternity, doing absolutely nothing for you.
I like writing pieces that can be submitted over and over. Reviews of vacation spots can be submitted to any of the numerous travel magazines. Writing pieces that look at the history of a sport or a location, cooking tips, or a guide to understanding the opposite sex are just three examples of pieces that will have long lives. Funny pieces are great; humor never goes out of style. Fiction, too.
If you’re looking to write a book, see if you can take individual chapters and sell them to various magazines. Obviously, you can’t do this with a novel, but you can with many self help books. This works to your advantage in three ways. One, it gives you smaller goals to work towards as you work on your book. Two, editors may be able to give you feedback that will help improve your book. Three, it will be easier to sell a book to a publisher if various parts of it have already been published in magazines.
Case in point: I plan to use this article as a chapter in a book about freelance writing.
Someday, I may be able to wake up at ten, eat a nice breakfast, and settle down for a pleasant afternoon of writing. For those of you able to do that, I suggest you ignore my advice. Until that time, however, I plan to make the most of my time and make sure my writing is working for me.