As most of you know, I consider myself a writer and like most writers, I dream of one day publishing a book. Despite harbouring such dreams, I haven’t actually tried to write a book of my own yet, much less begin the arduous process of publishing one. I have, though, been freelance writing since the start of this year, and for a brief stint before my house job started.
I started off content writing: copy for websites, as well as blogs and articles. Later, I graduated to my true love, fiction writing. I’ve been ghostwriting novellas, short stories and series for some time now and I feel it’s had a really positive impact on my own writing. So I thought I’d discuss here what the specific advantages were for me:
1.Quelled fears of length: Pre-freelancing, if you asked me to write a 50K novella, I would have looked at you as though you had cockroaches for eyes. I was and still am a short story writer. But freelancing has taught me that I can actually write a good deal – when you bang out a 10K story in a week, you learn to have confidence in your ability to string together large numbers of words. That 100K novel seems a lot more possible now.
2.No inspiration necessary: I’m the kind of writer who needs a Muse to hit them on the head before they start typing. However, because of freelancing I’ve noticed that a blank page and a very tight deadline can do wonders in manufacturing a fake violent Muse to give you inspiration. I’ve learnt that I can write even when I don’t feel creative enough to paint my toenails, and that I can still produce good work as a result.
3.Discipline: Continuing from the previous point. All authors talk about how the hardest part of writing is disciplining yourself to doing it every day. But as a result of freelance writing, I’ve had to create that discipline, which has shown me I can do it. It’s also shown me the less-than-glorious side of writing for a living – the lack of structure in one’s life, the need for coffee and the sheer, agonising stress of writer’s block.
4.Confidence: Until you make money at something, it’s easy to feel doubtful about your skill. Especially with something like fiction, which is subjective. Your friends will love anything you write anyway, but having a strange client like it, and pay you for it? That gives you confidence that your work can survive in the marketplace. Plus, cold hard cash is a great motivator to keep your pen in your hand.
5.Practice: Like any skill, writing requires practice. It also requires research and honing. Because this was my job, and because I love proficiency, I started looking at ways to improve my writing. I started studying story structure, climax and conflict construction, character development. I did writing drills and exercises. I honed and practised and perfected my craft and I continue to do so. I don’t think I would have made as much effort if I wasn’t doing this full time as a job.
6. Finding my voice: I have a pretty clear style already, but I feel writing so much has also helped me develop it further. It’s hard to explain, but I feel like I write with more authenticity now, in my own work as well as in ghostwritten pieces. I know what I sound like and I try to stay true to it as much as possible now, which makes things easier.
All of this basically boils down to this: Freelance writing gives you a lot of chances to practice, and money and confidence to boot. That’s why I’d recommend it to fledgeling writers who still don’t feel like they’re ready to submit a manuscript just yet, but want to practise and hone their craft.
See you guys soon.