Here’s a guest post from Kathy Edens, a professional copywriter who works on fiction in her spare time. If you’d like to contribute a guest post of your own, please send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line: Guest Post Idea for No Rules.
There’s something so appealing about stepping outside of time and having a sit-down with your younger self. You’d save yourself countless years of taking one step forward and two steps back as you fumble your way through the world of writing.
Imagine where you’d be today if you’d only known then the lessons you’ve learned.
I always wanted to be a writer, like so many I know, but was never encouraged to pursue it. I put aside my childish ways, thanks to the advice of many, and went to college for a degree in accounting. (What could be further from the creative life than accounting, you ask?)
Accounting did not feed my soul, so I eventually left the working world to raise my four children.
It wasn’t until some 15 years later, when my youngest child was in school, that I decided I wanted a career in writing. I went back to college, got a degree in writing and psychology, and began to call myself a writer.
I ache now to think of the years I lost not pursuing my dreams.
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What I Would Tell My Younger Writer Self
Here are a few things I would tell my younger self if I could:
- Making money with your writing is not a sell-out. I’m a freelance copywriter who makes a decent living writing content for companies. I set my own hours, run my own schedule, and get to do something I love every day. I write words that engage people. I wish someone had told me that you can make money as a business writer and spend your spare time writing your first love: fiction. You don’t have to be a starving artist.
- Don’t let someone else decide your future. Don’t accept the advice that you can’t be a writer because…(now fill in the blank with the numerous reasons why writing is not a real career). There are so many different ways you can use your writing talent to benefit yourself and others. Refer to point #1 above for more reinforcement.
- Never stop learning. There are so many ways that you can work on your writing chops beyond taking courses. Read everything—the good, the bad, and the ugly. Figure out what makes it good or bad, and learn from that. Also, get with a writing group that you trust and learn from each other. Join a book club and pick apart what makes stories ring true or false. You’ll learn from dissecting other’s work.
- Embrace technology. There’s so much to learn from technology. I wish I had tried Scrivener long before I did—it’s an amazing tool for writers to visualize their work. Start a blog; it’s easy for anyone to do with WordPress. Try sites like 750 Words and Daily Page for inspiration and motivation. There’s an incredible online community out there that’s easy to access through technology. Tap in and grow.
- Learn how to self-edit early. Writing is the easy part; editing makes it harder. Sometimes I’m so close to my work that I can’t see what needs fixed. A great way to hone your self-editing skills is to use one of the free online editing tools, like ProWritingAid. You’ll learn how to identify weaknesses in your writing using an online tool. I guarantee it will make you a stronger writer.
- Never give up. Someone once said the difference between a writer and someone else is the writer never gives up. You’ll face rejection. Get over it. Pick yourself back up and get back to work. Take heart from the countless rejection stories of others who eventually made it: Agatha Christie, J.K. Rowling, Margaret Mitchell, and C.S. Lewis. Even Dr. Seuss was told “Too different from other juveniles on the market to warrant its selling.”
Kathy Edens is a blogger, a ghost writer, and content master who loves writing about anything and everything. She has extensive experience helping clients reach their readers with compelling and engaging material.
You can find Kathy at www.kathy-edens.com.
Find more No Rules posts here:
- 4 Things Wayward Pines Can Teach Us About Writing.
- 6 Tips for Successful Comedy Writing.
- Improve Your Writing Platform in 30 Days.