“And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.” – Sylvia Plath
Do you think good writers are born with a pen in their hands or words flowing out of their mouths? No! It’s a skill they learn. Some have a natural flair for words and therefore it’s easy for them to write. Then there are those who are born in countries where English is their first language. Therefore they’re fortunate enough to have English lessons as part of their standard education.
On the other hand, some writers are from countries where English is not their native language. Furthermore, they may live in a part of the world where they didn’t get English grammar lessons at school.
Maybe you’re in that category and you struggle with the written English language. As a result, you believe you’re not a good writer.
But whatever you see as a barrier, you shouldn’t label yourself. Nor should it stop you from launching out as a freelance writer. Neither should the fact that English is not your first language stand in the way of your achievement.
Oni has built up a successful blog and earned a five figure income as a freelance writer. He was born in Nigeria, and has lived there all of his life. I believe one of the biggest challenges he faced as a writer was the language barrier. Nevertheless, that didn’t stop him from progressing. Instead, he used that obstacle as a stepping stone to get him where he is today.
This is what Karla Campos had to say about Oni, “I think when I first came across one of your articles you were 16. I am not sure how long ago it was but I remember people were always making a big deal about your age and being shocked at your knowledge. It goes to show that youth should not be ignored or judged on age alone. Your articles are always on point and contain references. You are awesome at what you do!” ~ Karla Campos – GigLogo.com
I admire Oni for his passion and determination to succeed. He’s inspired me as I worked towards achieving my writing goals.
I was born in Jamaica. I came to the UK when I was 14 with an extremely strong patois (pronounced patwa) accent. My little sister, who was born in the UK, teased me because of my heavy Jamaican accent. Her constant taunting forced me to speak like the typical English girl. Eventually, I lost my Jamaican accent.
I wasn’t the cleverest in school either. Then, to make matters worse, I used to truant from school with my cousins, so my education suffered. I left school with rubbish grades.
My barrier was poor grammar skills and could have easily become my excuse!
However, I always had a desire and passion for writing. I started off by writing poems. Then I went on to write articles and short stories. I was also asked to write for and manage a monthly column for young children in a church newsletter.
A few years later I enrolled on a creative writing course. But because of family commitments, the death of my dad and ex husband, I wasn’t able to finish the course.
Still, being the strong-minded person that I am, I carried on writing as a hobby. And now, I’m carving out a freelance writing career for myself.
If you want it badly enough, take steps towards achieving your goals. Just like lots of other freelance writers out there who’re making it.
- Write every day
Exercise your writing muscles. Develop a schedule for writing each day. The more you do it the better you’ll get. It doesn’t have to be anything specific. Write about anything you feel a desire to pour out on paper. It could be your thoughts, ideas for a project, a poem, short story, how you feel about life or whatever. Use that opportunity to try different styles of writing.
Your confidence will improve because as you develop your writing skills, you’ll overcome the fear of not being a good writer. Ideas should flow easier and inspiration will come.
Writing daily makes you feel in control. That’s because you’ll be writing about anything at anytime you fancy. It’s great and you don’t have to show your writing to anyone. You’re doing it for yourself to develop your writing skills. The creative juices you didn’t even realize you had will pour out .
You’re not aiming for perfection. Let the words flow and don’t be hard on yourself. You can always go back another day to edit your writing and correct your grammar.
If you keep this up or a few weeks, you might even see the beginning of a novel taking shape.
- Brush up on your grammar skills
It’s always good to improve your grammar skills. It does make a lot of difference when you’re confident in knowing where to put punctuation marks. The English language is quite complex. Being able to write it effectively will take you one step further towards being a successful freelance writer.
Anne Lyken-Garner has written a series of punctuation articles on this blog. Check them out, bookmark the pages and refer to them regularly. I’m sure you’ll find them useful.
BBC Skillswise is another handy website to use. Apart from various tips on spelling, sentence grammar and word grammar, it has quizzes, written exercises and games to test your knowledge. It’s a fantastic website and will help if you take time to use it regularly.
- Useful online resources
These sites are helpful. Save them in your favorites on your computer. You can always refer to them when needed.
This is useful for when you want to replace words for ones with a similar meaning. For example, instead of always writing ‘but’ you could use nonetheless, nevertheless, then or however. Using a thesaurus makes your writing more interesting and also increases your word bank. This site also contains a dictionary, translator and other beneficial features.
Spelling can be a nightmare. However this website has an online spelling and a free grammar checker. It gives you the option to copy and paste up to 500 words to check before submitting your work. There’s also a premium version which doesn’t have a word limit.
Daily Writing Tips http://www.dailywritingtips.com
Daniel Scocco founded this website. Check out grammar, vocabulary, spelling, punctuation and misused words on here. Daniel speaks English, Spanish, Italian and Portugese. Although he’s fluent in those languages, he still works hard at improving his writing and grammar skills.
- Be inspired by others who made it in spite of their language barriers
Whether you’re born in Africa, India, China or Brazil, you can still become a successful freelance writer. Being a non-native English speaker shouldn’t stop you.
The following article 12 Highly Successful Non-Native English Freelance Writers have a list of non-native English writers who made 4 figures a month from their freelance writing. Read their stories and be inspired by how they did it.
- Don’t be discouraged by negative comments from others or from yourself
If you want to succeed as a writer, don’t ever put negative words in your mouth, or thoughts in your mind. Also, don’t allow anyone to put you down. Or tell you that you’re not a good writer. Every writer who made it had to start somewhere.
“Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.” – Mark Twain
Mix with people who inspire you. “Iron sharpens iron” is a popular quote that my pastor uses a lot. It means that like-minded people support, learn from and encourage each other.
You may well be a freelance writer today, and a famous author tomorrow. Who knows what the future holds? That’s why it’s good to be inspired by others who made it, despite the challenging circumstances and barriers they faced.
You need passion, commitment, determination and focus to succeed as a writer. Once you’ve got those qualities, you can always learn the rest.
Do you class yourself as not being a good writer? If you do what motivates you to carry on? Please share your views in the comment box.
June Whittle is a blogger and freelance writer. She has two personal blogs that she manages and writes for. Please stop by her main blog to find out some more about her.