7 Behaviors That Stop New Freelance Writers & How To Change Them

by Anne Wayman

change writing behaviorThere are seven behaviors that new freelance writers often exhibit that can stop their writing career before it gets well started. Fortunately each one is possible to change.

It’s unlikely you’ll be able to change all seven right now, so I’ve marked the easiest ones with purple asterisks to show you which ones I know you could change today.

The rest need some work too, but generally will take more time.

7 Behaviors that stop writers

purple asteriskFear of rejection. Okay, I know this is a biggie, or feels like it is. But you know what’s worse than rejection? Is waking up one morning and realizing you never even tried. So act as if you’re not afraid of rejection and start submitting your writing for publications. This gets an asterisk because you can start pretending you’re not afraid right this minutes.



purple asteriskNot focusing on a niche or two. If you don’t pick a niche or two you’ll find yourself writing all over the map. Focusing on one or two topics means you’ll be developing skills and contacts in those areas, both of which will propel you to success more quickly than the scatter shot approach. Pick a niche or two right now.

Not learning the basics. Like every other profession, freelance writing has some rules, both written and unwritten. You need to learn them. Sites like this one, Jenn Mattern’s All Indie Writers, Sharon Hurley Hall’s Get PaidtoWriteOnLine are two of the best. Writer’s Market gives a great overview, lots of how-to, and samples of what you can expect in payment for various writing gigs. Just don’t spend so much time studying the basics you forget to write.

purple asteriskNot knowing how you’re unique. The sooner you recognize you’re unique and you already have a unique writing voice, the easier time you’ll have with your writing. This gets a purple asterisk because you can at least start pretending you know this right now.

Not writing regularly. Most successful writers write at least five days a week, and many every day. But you can be successful and only write on weekends, or three days a week – the point is to write regularly (and often).



purple asteriskNot reading widely. The best writers read widely… the read about writing, they read news, they read novels, they read blogs – they may even be seen reading the backs of milk cartons, and ads on their cell phones. There’s some almost magical connection between reading and writing. You can start reading today – hence the purple asterisk.

purple asteriskNot pitching. If you don’t offer your writing to clients or publishers you’ll never get paid, I promise. Usually not pitching is either fear of rejection (see the first entry here) or some belief you can rewrite a piece to perfection. The problem is neither you nor I would recognize perfection even if it knocked on the door and introduced itself.  Give it up, now or at least pretend you know there is no perfection. You could pitch today – or at least apply for a job. Another purple asterisk.

Not having a website. If you plan on earning a living writing or even making a serious mark, you’ve got to have a website. It doesn’t need to be perfect and you don’t have to pay a ton for it. In fact, you can do it yourself with a mere four pages. Sure, it will probably take you a day or two, but you could go to BlueHost right now and order a domain name.

You can do 5 today

I didn’t know when I started this post that you’d actually be able to get started today with five behavior changes – but you can. What’s stopping you?

What is stopping you? Did I leave something out? How have you changed your behavior so you’re no longer stopped?

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Elizabeth West January 25, 2014 at 7:33 am

I was going to say networking. I have been doing that with writers I met at nerd cons and online; two of them are doing a critique (paid) and a first reading of two of my books right now. I just got a follower on Twitter who follows someone I follow! Whee! It’s not my genre (they’re horror, but I’m a fan), but who cares? A connection is still a connection, and successful writers are usually very generous with advice.
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Sharon Hurley Hall January 10, 2014 at 6:06 am

Great tips, Anne, and thanks for including my site. :) I’d add that you have to keep marketing and pitching so you have a constant stream of available work – many writers stop when they think they have enough.
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annew January 10, 2014 at 7:43 am

Excellent point, Sharon… yes, I did that once, then figured out the need to keep marketing.

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Emelia January 9, 2014 at 7:58 pm

Great post Anne. I think the first asterisk deserves to be there. Fear is the biggest stopper. I am glad that you also put an asterisk to “not pitching”. Fear combined with perfectionism becomes a killer of any career.
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annew January 10, 2014 at 7:43 am

Glad you like it, Emelia.

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Amandah January 9, 2014 at 11:51 am

I would add not networking. You can take advantage of local networking events and/or writer’s conference. Make connections and grow your freelance writing business.
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annew January 10, 2014 at 7:44 am

Yes, not networking could certainly be included. Good point.

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