Guest post by Heather
At what point does one assume the freelance writer title? Does the designation require payment for written words? The transition between someone who writes for pleasure verses someone who gets paid to write isn’t necessarily fluid.
For years, I worked as a cartographer. At the request of my employer, I often set aside mapping projects to edit documents, eventually read by thousands of people. If a friend was in the midst of writing a resume, I’d offer to take a look. Even editing a doctoral dissertation was admittedly enjoyable.
About two years ago, an artist friend asked me to write her biography, needed for an art exhibit brochure. We discussed how her early years in Rome, Georgia shaped her passion for art. My payment was a cup of coffee. Really!
I attended my friend’s art show and she introduced me to everyone as a writer. Even though I personally identified as a writer, for the first time ever, someone else recognized my abilities publically.
In social settings when someone asked me about myself, I finally started calling myself a writer. No one knew that I’d never been paid in real currency, aside from my normal salary when I worked as a cartographer.
One day the phone rang. Someone, a person I’d never met before, heard that I was a writer and asked if I could write a story about a charitable fund raising event. I jumped at the chance. Even though the article I wrote was published in a national publication, I never was paid. Seriously!
I realized that I should and could get paid, for what I love to do.
I began by introducing myself to others as a freelance writer, not a writer. I started writing original content, not simply editing something that someone else wrote. I wrote blog posts for a national magazine. I wrote for nonprofits. I wrote to create a bank of interesting articles. I also checked out every nearly every single book from my local library about how to make a living as a writer (never mind that my public library is small, situated in a rural community). I learned how to write query letters. I become social in the virtual world and created a website to house my published work. I received my first paycheck almost exactly one year after I announced to the world, “I’m a freelance writer.” Truthfully!
Ask any freelance writer to describe his or her path. Each person will have a different answer. The process is a journey of self discovery and most importantly the belief in oneself.
Carry yourself in a dignified manner as you experience the title of a freelance writer. You have a duty to write factually and honestly. Maintaining relationships based on trust is important in the career of a freelance writer. Even if someone rejects your work, remember to maintain composure. Perhaps the same person who rejected something that you wrote may like something else you’ve written. You will not be able to please everyone, but you’ll be certain to please someone.
While writers experience solitude, writers also have the opportunity to be part of a bigger world. Since I became a freelance writer, I’ve found that everyone has a story waiting to be heard.
Feel free to share your writing journey with the readers in the comments below.
Heather Villa is a freelance writer who finds untold stories. Her byline has appeared in publications such as Living Green, Firefighter Nation, and MomSense. For one stop shopping, visit her on Twitter (@HeatherVilla1).