Smell that? Yeah. Hearsay. Myths. Or as I like to call it, gibberish. Light a candle, quick! It reeks.
Unfortunately, myths about writing are a thing. And for full-time writers like yours truly, the old urban legends tend to peep their ugly noggin out from behind the sofa every now and again.
Don’t let them put you off!
Let it be known, as a warning; the sad truth is, there will always be some writing myth out there that will attempt to kick the ladder from under your feet. Things like needing a stack of startup cash and a wealth of qualifications, having to be a member of the “grammar police” or a workaholic, and always having to seek paid work to start a writing career.
I quit my office job in 2015 to become a full-time writer, and I’m here to tell you that writing for a living is very possible, given you side-step the myths, hearsay, and speculative jargon I’m about to tell you about.
The writing gods from the future sent me to warn you about these threats … I kid you not!
Come on, I’ve got you.
Yeah, it’s true: Being qualified in English literature or having an honors degree in journalism will most likely speed up the process of obtaining a career in writing—and it may put you ahead in the pecking order for some writing gigs—but not having a qualification isn’t the be-all and end-all.
Building up a formidable writing portfolio through writing guest posts and starting your own blog can be just as effective for getting your feet wet in the writing world.
Here’s what you can do to gain valuable experience, degree free.
There are many great ways you can entice a client without actually having a degree. You’ve just got to work that little bit harder to get there. Like I did. But if you’re expecting to become a successful writer without hard work, then forget it.
Effort is the name of the game here.
Most people shudder with fear when they hear the term “startup cost.”
If you can’t afford a laptop or desktop, just join your local library. Most libraries offer you access to their computers for a few bucks per month.
Think of it as a temporary workshop until you’ve built up enough funds to pay for your very own laptop computer, internet installation, and blog/website.
There’s also free mentorship out there. One very useful and simple way of seeking free mentorship is following writers on social media platforms, signing up for newsletters—and, well, asking for help.
Email successful writers; more times than not they’ll be happy to help you. That way, you can build up a working relationship with them and occasionally reach out when you’re in need of some friendly advice.
Sound out great advice from people who have been there and done it. That way, you’ll be on the correct path right from the starting line.
You don’t need a wheelbarrow full of cash to become a successful writer.
I won’t lie; before I started full-time in the writing business, my grammar was bang average. I loved to write as a result of having a creative imagination with stories to tell, but grammar wasn’t exactly my forte.
Being generous, I was a five out of 10.
But I didn’t let my grammar stop me from carving out a writing career for myself. You’ll probably be surprised to hear this, given that grammar is allegedly a writer’s bread and butter … but it wasn’t much of a stumbling block … at all.
Yeah, spelling and punctuation are extremely important. Of course they are. There’s nothing worse than an article with a ton of silly grammar and punctuation errors!
But, guess what? Nobody will see those errors. Thankfully, there’s software that can help with your grammar difficulties before you send your work across for others to view.
So, listen. Do as I did:
As time goes on and you keep learning, you will find that eventually, you won’t even need the software as much as you used to in the past because you’re learning from your mistakes.
Use this software as a helping hand, and your grammar will improve gradually as the weeks and months unfold.
On average, I write four days a week, sometimes five, depending on whether or not my deadlines are met and I can take Friday, Saturday, and Sunday off to let my hair down. That’s roughly 36 hours per week. Even if you’re practicing to become a writer, four to five days is a handsome amount of writing.
You don’t need to write seven days per week, flat out. It’s not healthy being burned out, frazzled, and mentally drained.
Did Gordon Ramsay cook 365 days of the year to win all those Michelin Stars? I doubt it.
Did Muhammed Ali box every single day to become a world champion? He spent six days training and rested up on Sunday.
Trust me when I say that a refreshed, healthy, energized writer is a better writer—and it reflects on your work. Resting physically and mentally is important for your body and mind.
So it’s OK. I allow you to have a day off. Spend time with your family, go out with your pals, or head away on a short vacation.
Just don’t get sloppy and take days off you know you shouldn’t. Four or five days is sufficient. Aim for that!
Money makes the world spin ’round. It’s what we get out of bed for. But, sometimes, we have to be crafty. I know you may not like to hear it, but that means doing work that you won’t get a dime for.
I started off my writing career volunteering for my local paper; that’s how I got my first “big break” in the writing world— and without it, I’d most likely not be writing this piece. So, as you can imagine, I’m quite a firm believer in volunteer work.
Even now, as a writer who earns a living from it, I still volunteer on the odd occasion; that’s if I think my time is worth the investment for further opportunities and potential paid work in the future. I never underestimate its value.
Unpaid work is especially ideal for writers who are trying to make a breakthrough. It’s a great opportunity to show potential new clients what you’re made of.
Send your drafts into local newspapers. Contact blogs online, and volunteer to guest post for some exposure and publicity to get your name out there.
Write the best piece you’ve ever written. Make sure your drafts are proofread with no silly grammar mistakes before you send them.
Do all you can to get noticed, and eventually, your opportunity will come along for some properly paid writing gigs. Even if you’ve established yourself as a decently paid writer already, unpaid work can still lead to bigger and better-paid jobs, so never rule it out completely.
While you could argue there’s some truth to these myths, they aren’t gospel truth. You can become a writer without copious amounts of cash, qualifications, and writing every day.
Save writing samples so you can show them off to potential new clients. Set aside some pocket change to get started on your writing career, and sign up at your local library if you don’t already have access to the internet. When you gather enough money, start a blog and portfolio.
Don’t worry about not being a grammar genius; as I have explained, there’s a way around it. Just make sure to learn from your mistakes as you go along.
Rest when you feel you need to, physically and mentally.
Don’t listen to the myths and negatives, and smash your writing goals without anybody’s permission.
Michael Bradley is an entrepreneurial writer currently based in Ireland who lends his services to various brands, SEO agencies, and magazines through his own website: www.freelancemichael.com, or directly through his personal email: [email protected]. When he isn't attending to his clients, Michael is a passionate Liverpool FC supporter and his dream is to one day see Liverpool win the Premier League. Follow him on LinkedIn and Twitter.