There are all sorts of dangerous freelance writing myths out there. You know what I mean. All sorts of writers, good, bad, indifference and worse will post about the freelance writing game as if they know what they’re talking about. While many do, the one’s who don’t often make freelance writing sound either way better than it is or way worse.
Misinformation about our industry is likely to lead the newcomer astray, and even occasionally blindside the more experienced writer, which is why I consider these dangerous freelance writing myths.
It’s easy – probably the worst of the dangerous freelance writing myths
Yes, some will tell you freelance writing is easy. It isn’t. It may be easier than digging ditches or spending hours on a factory floor, but maybe not. Writing takes serious mental energy and that’s hard work. It takes time to learn do write well, requires additional skills like reading and keyboarding plus discipline. You’re muscles aren’t likely to hurt after a writing session, but your brain may feel worn out.
Anyone can do it
Anyone can put words on a screen that may look like decent writing, but the proof is in the reading. While I suspect that most anyone can be taught to write complete sentences and paragraphs, that doesn’t mean that anyone can become a successful freelance writer. If your audience doesn’t like what you’re writing, or feel challenged by it, or is interested in some way, you’re writing career, if you have any, will be short.
You have to write as well as (favorite author)
On the other hand, you don’t have to write deathless prose to be successful in the freelance writing game. You need to be able to think clearly and get that thinking down on paper in a way that makes it interesting and understandable for your reader. There’s a learning process. You may have gotten a good start in school, but it will take more writing, study and practice to make it as a freelance writer.
You’ve got to have at least 6 month’s income saved
Some will tell you that you need six months income saved before you launch your freelance writing career. I consider this one of the dangerous freelance writing myths because it can stop you from ever even trying to write professionally. In fact, I’d go so far to say that having not much money in the bank will act as a goad to get you writing. There’s a happy middle in there somewhere.
You have to be an expert on something
Well, you probably are already an expert on something, but that doesn’t mean you should write about it. Paula Hendrickson, successful freelance writer and blogger at Create From Scratch, is the one who pointed out to me that writing about something you want to learn makes a ton of sense.
You’ve got to limit yourself to a specific niche or two
A niche is an area of expertise. Some suggest you’ve simply got to specialize and “find your niche.” My own experience tells me your niche will find you and no matter what it is, it will change over time. Just write and write and write.
You need connections
This is so not true, yet some insist you need to know someone to get published and paid. Sure, if you know the editor of a magazine you want to write for it may make it easier, but at least as often it will actually make it more difficult to sell there. Most editors work hard to avoid bias when considering hiring writers. Sometimes a connection can get you a reading, and sometimes not. Just ignore anyone who tells you you’ve got to have connections. You’ll make your own.
You’ve got to have a college degree
This one always amuses me. I don’t have a college degree so if you need proof you don’t need one just look this direction. I sometimes wonder what difference it might have made for me had I gotten one. Impossible to know. My granddaughter (!) just graduated from Long Beach State with a Bachelor’s in creative writing. Will this prove to be an advantage for her? Maybe. She has been exposed to a ton more kinds of writing than I was at her age and she’s had to produce writing that was read and evaluated sooner than I did. I didn’t start writing until my early 30s. Get a degree if you want one, but know you don’t have to have one to write.
No one earns a decent living as a writer
I suppose this is part of the starving artist myth. While it’s true there isn’t much security in freelance writing these days I think that’s true of all work. Unless you’re running your own business, and as a freelancer you are, you can be fired from any job from the lowest paid to the highest. There are plenty of six figure writers – and a few in the 1 percent. They’ve worked to get there, and made the most of any luck they’ve had, just as you can do. Sure, there are some who say they want to write and even make a small living at it. As far as I can tell that’s really a matter of choice – conscious or otherwise.
What did I miss? How does this post match your experience? Tell us in comments.
Write well and often,