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You Define Your Own Success as a Freelance Writer

success as a freelance writerDo you consider yourself a success as a freelance writer?

I ask because I’m seeing articles and ads that imply you can’t experience success as a freelance writer if you don’t write a book in 90 days or make a six or seven figure income, or have a gillion followers on social media, etc. etc. etc.

It seems a push toward more money, more prestige, more stuff comes around every year or so. Maybe I’m wrong, but some of it feels like they’re trying to convince me I’m not a real writer or a successful writer until I do it there way. When it does I feel like pushing back.

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7 Biggest Freelance Writing Myths in 2018

freelance writing mythsHave you bought into any of these freelance writing myths?

While it’s more likely a beginning writer will fall for these false beliefs, it’s not unknown for writers with some experience to discover they are trapped in one or more of them.

These freelance writing myths are indeed traps because they can slow your freelance writing career or stop it entirely.

Here they are:

A college degree is a must-have

This one has been around since the beginning of college degrees. I don’t know if it originated as part of the marketing of universities and other institutes of higher education or not. It may have fallen out of the academic world.

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hiring writersEver wish you could spy on those folks actually hiring writers? What clues might you find? How do they think? What makes them decide one writer over another? Any information on these issues is welcomed.

I clicked on a link that I think I’m going to reference on my pro site.

It’s called Tips, Tools & Resources to Find Great Freelance Writers for Hire by Megan Krause for something called Vertical Measures. The article showed up serendipitously on a google search. (Megan seems to write quite regularly for them, and I found other articles of interest to me, but I digress.)

The first roughly half of the article addresses just about everything we freelance writers for hire gripe about when we mutter about the folks who hire us. Since this article is aimed at our customer, it seems worth studying. Not only are we likely to lean something, we could use of these ideas could be used by us when we’re demonstrating our value to existing and potential clients.

Her advice to companies about what figuring out what they need to know to hire a writer that will meet or exceed their needs is darn close to revolutionary! She even sets out some pay rates that look good.

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freelance writing adviceFreelance writing advice comes in three flavors – the good, the bad, and the ugly.

How do I know? Simple. In my literally decades of writing I’ve often looked for freelance writing advice. I’ve experienced all three types.

Since I give freelance writing advice I suspect I’ve also given both good and bad advice. I’ve tried to avoid the ugly. I’ve got readers who seem to appreciate and use what I suggest for years at a time. Occasionally I run into a detractor.

The quality of any advice about anything is hard to quantify. So much depends on the motivation of both the advice giver and receiver.

Good freelance writing advice

Good freelance writing advice comes from someone whose been in the business awhile. As a rule of thumb, I’d want to know the advice giver had been successfully working as a freelance writer for at least five years. That’s fairly arbitrary. I’ve certainly learned more and more every year I’ve been writing, but by the end of five years I’d figured out the basics.

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declaration of independenceThe Declaration of Independence was written to celebrate our breaking away from the Kingdom of Great Britain on July 4, in 1776, some 242 years ago.

The opening of the second paragraph is perhaps best known:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. (Read the full text here.)

The Declaration of Independence left out some folks

It’s a pretty good document. The gaps and misunderstandings can be forgiven as long as we don’t continue to perpetuate them. Consider:

They were not mentioned in the Declaration of Independence, they were absent in the Constitution and they were invisible in the new political democracy. They were the women of early America. ~Howard Zinn

Zinn could have included blacks, Native American’s and any other person of color.

Although a slave owner himself, Thomas Jefferson proposed adding an attack on slavery, which stated in part: [click to continue…]


The Easy(ist) Way to Become a Ghostwriter

Claudia Suzanne will teach you to become a ghostwriter

Claudia Suzanne will teach you to become a ghostwriter

Think you’d like to become a ghostwriter? I stumbled into the book ghostwriting part of my freelance writing career.

These days, there’s an easier, softer way. Several years ago I was asked to be a speaker at what was probably the first-ever conference for ghostwriters. It was put on by Claudia Suzanne.

A successful ghostwriter herself she felt the profession needed some opmph and a bit more respectability. She started a certification program for folks who wanted to learn the skills involved.

To earn the certificate you need to take her class. And it’s a wow of a class.

Offered under the auspices of California State University at Long Beach it’s available online and in person.

I grill Claudia about her become a ghostwriter program

I asked here a bunch of questions – they, along with her answers, follow:

How did you become a ghostwriter?

When I couldn’t play the drums anymore (yes, this is a true story), I wrote a book with my pianist husband and our road manager about making a living in the clubs. Our only competition was Kenny Roger’s book, so we were picked up by Watson-Guptil/Billboard Books, plugged on MTV, and sold out quickly and repeatedly around the country–including Samuel French, the biggest music-industry bookstore at the time. We made… enough to cover rent + two bags of groceries each. Six months later, our royalties came to two bags between the three of us. We did better playing dive bars! A friend who was helping me get a handle on my MS had a friend who needed help with a book. Since I’d written one, I wrote another. Then I wrote another. Then I met a literary agent who sent me a client, but he wanted me to write like him, not like me. And the journey began.

Do you include ghosting articles as well as books in your program?

No. I never really learned the knack of writing short. I used to be Executive Editor of a small magazine and had to ghost/rewrite all the submissions into the publication’s voice (rather PEOPLE-ish), but I have little to offer there.

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The Art of Making Mistakes

mistakesMaking mistakes is always difficult and having to admit big ones is even worse. Professionally, if this happens, it can be catastrophic and a game ending experience for your business. That is why I almost did not try to resurrect my writing career after some life events knocked out my credibility.

Channeling my constant perfectionism and fear of failure and also being basically somewhat allergic to deadlines, I have always struggled to get to the finish line. Don’t get me wrong; I love what I do and seeing my name in print or on the Web is the ultimate high for me.

Also, since I have always worried that my best will never be good enough, I hesitate when pressing the send button. This has resulted in my having not-so–good relationships with some editors.

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A Freelance Writer’s Guide to Meditation

meditationEvery now and again I mention meditation as a useful tool for writers.

My history with meditation is simple enough. For 25 or 30 years I attempted to meditate from time to time. I failed over and over again. I kept making the effort because I sensed the ever growing number of people suggesting one way or another that meditation could be a huge positive benefit were right. About 10 years ago I found out what I was doing wrong and began to develop a meditation practice.

What is meditation?

Meditation is one of those words that has innumerable meanings. It’s often associated with various religions which confuses things. That’s why, although I’m a practicing zen Buddhist, I like Wikipedia’s definition of best:

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reflectionGoogle reflection and you’ll get this definition:

serious thought or consideration.
“he doesn’t get much time for reflection”
synonyms: thought, thinking, consideration, contemplation, deliberation, pondering, meditation, musing, rumination; formal cogitation “after some reflection, he turned it down”

Your mom and/or some of your teachers may have called it daydreaming, or wasting time.

Productive reflection happens in many ways

Maybe you set aside time to reflect (aka meditate). Or maybe you spend some time skipping stones at the shore, relaxing your mind and allowing it to ponder the secrets of the universe or your corner of it. Sorting buttons, or chopping potatoes can open you up to reflection. There’s something magical about repetitive action. Singing in the shower can also work.

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helpful ritualHow do you start your writing day, with a boring routine or a helpful ritual?

If you’re like me, it probably varies.

Oh, unless I have an early morning meeting or some other unusual event, I tend to do roughly the same things every morning. Get up, feed the cat, unlock the buildings where I live, make coffee, spend a bit of time reading, mediate for 30 minutes, etc. etc. etc.

It’s my attitude that mostly determines my mood which governs my approach to the moment. I want to be in an optimistic, happy frame of mine because it’s way more fun and it makes the writing and coaching go so much better then they do when I’m gloomy or discouraged. I find a helpful ritual or two can make all the difference. Here are some of the helpful rituals I’ve developed over time:

  • Years ago I bought this wonderful rug at a garage sale in the most expensive area of town. I bought it because I liked the look. When I got home, it really perked up my living room. Not only that it feels marvelous when I walk on it barefoot. It’s thick and dense. I’m usually without shoes and I’ve made a habit of noticing how good that run feels at least a couple of times a day. Sometimes I’ll just stand there and wiggle my toes in it.

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