freelance writing

The Fairy Tale Guide to Freelance Writing

Guest post by Bree

Once upon a time, you decided to become a freelance writer.

This decision may have taken you months or even years to reach, but now that you’ve taken the plunge into freelancing, you know there’s no turning back.

However, you’ve quickly found that there’s so much organizing and marketing and general freelance writing STUFF to know that you’re becoming overwhelmed. You’ve read that you can make a very good life of freelance writing, but right now it all seems like a fairy tale, and not the kind that ends well.

But you know what? Some of the most basic lessons you need to learn about getting started with freelance writing actually come from some of the most beloved children’s stories of all time.

So set aside your doubts for a moment and learn from the best crown-toting, magic-encountering, non-freelance writers you’ll ever meet.

Lesson #1: True Love Comes from the Inside

Beauty and the Beast is one of the most honest and deep portrayals of love you’ll ever find in media.

Despite the Beast being hideous and being anything but human in appearance, Belle eventually learns to look past this and fall in love with his character and internal being. He’s even able to look past his own physical flaws and return her love.

Similarly, freelance writers need to realize that no matter how hideous the world of freelancing may look at first glance, there’s far more to it than first impressions. Yes, you may need to keep track of your own taxes, and yes, you need to put lots of effort in, but the payoff is worth it.

Freelancing is one of those rare careers that offers you the freedom and choice to live a prosperous, happy life on your own terms. It’s also a very selfless entity; the more you devote your time and love to it, the more it will give back to you monetarily (though it’s best to avoid this attitude in human relationships). It will also make you feel more fulfilled in the long run.

When you’re becoming overwhelmed with all you have to do in your freelancing career, stop and remember how Belle loved the Beast despite his looks, and how you too love freelance writing despite its drawbacks.

Lesson #2: Don’t Trust Strangers

I know that many feminists are disgusted with the “damsel in distress” characters in some classic fairy tales who lack any wits and smarts and always have to rely on the men to rescue them.

But to be honest, they have a point.

Snow White, for example, got herself into a dangerous situation because she didn’t have better sense or fortitude to think, “I don’t know this old woman standing in front of me; this is kind of weird.” Instead, Snow White took a bite from the poisoned apple the old woman handed to her and fell into a deep sleep that she could not wake from without outside help.

If you can learn anything from this damsel in distress, it’s that you shouldn’t trust what feels weird in your freelance writing career.

This feeling could stem from a client who’s asking you to do too much work for your time, or even bad reports you hear about a certain web hosting company as you’re researching where to put your writer’s site.

Just stay away from those situations. Find a better web host, and politely but firmly back out of a trouble client if you have to. Do whatever you must to avoid becoming a damsel in distress.

Lesson #3: Perseverance Pays Off

Sometimes evil stepmothers and endless chores are a good thing.

When Cinderella was forced to become a servant in her own father’s household instead of becoming a proper step-daughter, she had a grueling life for a long time. But we don’t see her b*%$# and moan and complain all the time. She occasionally dreams of a better life, but then moves right ahead with her work.

Cinderella’s ultimately rewarded when destiny decided that an evil stepmother wasn’t the one in control. She was able to attend a ball, fall in love with a prince, and live happily ever after.

Cinderella teaches freelance writers that sometimes you keep working even when the everything around you sucks.

Maybe you have that one client whose newsletters are more boring to write than it would be for you to stare at rocks in hopes that they’d move. Or maybe your money situation is tight and you really feel like giving up and going back to a full-time job where you know the paycheck is steady.

But if you buckle down to your freelance writing work and do it diligently, your perseverance will be rewarded. Just as Cinderella received her better life, you can also have a great career if you stick with it for the long haul.

Lesson #4: On Occasion, Try a Dose of Naïveté

Little Red Riding Hood’s not what you’d call… smart.

Remember those damsels in distress we talked about earlier? She’s definitely one of them. I mean, when you can’t distinguish your grandmother from a wolf, you’re lacking more than just your basic understanding of human and animal anatomy.

However, the brilliant thing about Little Red Riding Hood is her naïveté. She apparently has no qualms about walking through a big forest all alone, and she obligingly tells the wolf where she’s going.

Likewise, jumping headfirst into something brand new in your freelance writing can be one of the best decisions for your career.

Let’s say you’ve only ever written case studies, but you’re very interested in blogging for businesses. Don’t let the fact that you’ve never blogged for anyone other than yourself stop you. You may find that companies simply rave about your blogging skills once you take the time to apply yourself to this new endeavor.

Remember, risk-takers are usually a little naive, but they tend to be the most successful in the end. Like Little Red Riding Hood getting swallowed whole (she lives, btw), you may hit some bumps along the road, but you won’t know if you don’t try.

Part of the reason fairy tales have stuck around for as long as they have is because they teach our children valuable lessons about life.

But really, these tales teach adults about our lives, too. This is no less true when you apply their principles to your freelance writing careers.

When you’re doubting your abilities or success as a writer, just recall the lessons you learned in this guide. Your freelance writing can have the happy ending of a fairy tale, after all.

Bree Brouwer is a freelance blogger and writer who really likes drawing connections between entertainment and real life. She writes about movies and TV for Fanhattan and discusses geek culture at her blog, Geek My Life.

8 replies on “The Fairy Tale Guide to Freelance Writing”

I’m a sucker for fairy tales, so this analogy feels right with me. 🙂

Thanks for the reminders!

Haha – this is awesome 🙂 I think the Cindarella analogy might be my favorite. You’re right that you never see her piss and moan, which is an attitude I’m going to try to adopt whenever I’m feeling overwhelmed by the number of work projects piling up in front of me!

Thanks for sharing this!

I’m glad it was helpful and interesting, Sarah! Yes, Cinderella’s hit home for me as I was writing this, so it seemed natural to include it.

Bree well, I have many experience dealing with strangers. Its all good lessons for future

Wow, thanks for this. Very apropos. I’m three weeks into my freelancing career, working hard to get business clients and trying to figure out how to pitch magazines. Thought I had it all figured out until I actually got going! This is great advice, and I love the fairytale allegory. Very creative! Thanks again.

I really love the way you have written this post…Some people always dream of becoming a writer but they may never be able to unless they move ahead with it..I started writing on few Indian sites and now I write on my blog and some good clients..I think one should not only dream but also keep moving ahead…..

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