At the start, I had unrealistic expectations for what my general income would look like if I were to seriously pursue my dreams of being a writer. Up until that point, I had been working in retail, in customer service, or in the foodservice industries. Be practical, don’t quit your day job, I was always told. I’d been studying English Literature, Pragmatics, and Creative Writing with no intention of being a teacher. I had at one point been an education major but decided that it wasn’t something I was interested in pursuing. But since graduating in 2018, I had realized that not one of my professors had given examples of what you could do with an English Degree other than being a teacher.
In fact, most of my curriculum was geared toward a career path in education, which I steered clear from. That was plan Z. . As time went on I found myself hating what I was doing every day, because it wasn’t writing, nor career-oriented. I was jumping from job to job, expecting job satisfaction to just happen for me. It didn’t. And it was because I was avoiding the idea of being a writer and making money. I didn’t really trust that you could do both. I was wrong.
It wasn’t until 2021 that I finally began to believe in myself, and started looking into the idea more. I tried programs like Writer-Work-App, and started taking this blog seriously. I got through several workshops and decided that Freelance was a lot harder than expected. Don’t expect to make money right away. Building a portfolio takes a lot of work and time. It’s important to get different styles of writing samples such as book reviews, life and relationship advice, and how-to articles. This will help you understand what kind of writing jobs you’d be interested in looking into. It’s also important to understand how much you need to write to make ends meet and how much to charge clients for your work( $ per page, word count, etc). You decide your worth as a writer.
My senior year creative writing professor told us that if we want any sort of writing career we needed to start putting stuff out there now! I wish I had heeded this advice and had not gotten lost in the perils of minimum wage jobs and self-doubt. I realized that before I could make any money, I had a lot of work to do. I did not have as many assignments that I had felt proud enough to share, or even interesting enough ( unless someone is interested in reading an eight-page essay on Thomas Hardy’s Tess of D’Urbervilles, lemme know) and I had no clue as to what I had wanted to write. So I got some writing prompt books, which have helped with just getting into the habit of writing and just writing on the spot ( I will list the links below!) A co-worker of mine also mentioned how he enjoys looking on platforms such as Reddit for short story prompt submissions, which is something I myself try.
Sometimes I would just get too focused on the details of the story, doubting if they were compelling enough, and wouldn’t get past the first page. I remember I would just sit and write, for hours on end. Fan-fictions and other stories of my own. I remember back around Christmas one year, my brother had asked me if I had a plan when I wrote and I said, “No, I just see what happens.” And I want to return to that mindset. I’ve tried the planner thing, and I get too wrapped up in the process that I never get anything written. Somewhere along the way, I had lost that edge. That nerve to just sit down and write. I hyper-fixated on the word count, overplotting the plot, and even on my handwriting, making sure it was perfect. Perfectionism is a real problem. Especially as a writer. And I know I am not the only writer that has struggled with self-doubt. Here’s the thing though, the best way to combat self-doubt when writing is to just write! Stop overthinking it and just see what happens. If you hate it, you hate it, if not, keep going.
Where do I look for writing gigs? Mostly Indeed.com, or even places like Buzzfeed. The Writer’s Work App did offer a platform to find jobs. LinkedIn has also been a great source for finding writing or copy-editing jobs, and also a community of writer’s who similar goals. Also, great advice from a dear friend, writer, and co-worker, Kathy Hall: Don’t hesitate on sending out submissions to editorials like Writer’s Digest and other magazines. Those still exist, if not more.
I wish I could say I am doing all of these things, but as I said, it takes a while to build a portfolio. But I’ve managed to a point where I am content with where I am in life. I work as a bookseller at Barnes and Noble and am still in love almost a year later. I am also working at a national vape and CBD retail distributor. I am a work in progress, and that’s okay. Don’t be so hard on yourself. Self-care is important when it comes to being a writer. You don’t want to burn out. Don’t force yourself to write, you will hate yourself. Just remember to recognize when you have those urges to write and follow up on them, you will thank yourself later.