Advice Aspiring Writers Don’t Want to Hear (But Need to Listen to)

Here’s how to ‘be a writer.’


We have all received advice we didn’t want to hear. But it’s that kind of advice we need to listen to the most. I have a special kind of love for aspiring writers because I was one for many years. I care about you, I really do. But you need to listen up for a few minutes, OK?

This is how you start making money, and establishing yourself as a writer …

Write for free … a lot

No one – no one- wants to hear this. Writing for free? What a waste of my time and talent! Uh, not exactly. In reality, writing for free is the only way you are ever going to get published. It doesn’t matter if you want to publish fiction or become a freelance writer or write poetry or whatever your aspiring genre: you need experience. It doesn’t matter if you are out of school and in the real world.

The majority of sites that will accept amateur work will not pay you. And they shouldn’t. You need to have dozens of articles published before you have earned the right to be paid for your efforts. Why? Because everyone can write, but not everyone can give valuable advice or do good research. Not everyone can write for a specific audience or be original. You need to develop and refine those skills before you are qualified to earn anything. That is how it is for everyone who eventually makes it, and deserves to have made it.

Start small and work your way up

Truth bomb: You are not going to start making good money, or any money at all really, when you first start writing. You will not easily find ways to “speed up” this process or find many quick tricks to make money fast, especially if you have another job and other responsibilities besides writing. Writing is not something you should do if you are looking to make a lot of money very quickly. Period.

You need to realize that working your way up to making money off of writing takes a lot of time, and you are going to have to find ways to sidestep your excuses in order to make time to make a little bit of progress every single day. If you are not patient enough to wait, this might not be the best path for you.

Read, read, read

What many aspiring writers struggle with is reading. Many don’t usually have issues with fiction, but not everyone is willing to go deep into the blogiverse or websites they admire to see what is already out there. If you do not read, you will never make it. That is a fact, not an opinion.

It’s not just about reading books or blog posts that are going to give you advice. You have to read instructions. You have to read things that have already been published and use them to help you create your own ‘formula’ for successful writing (not copying others’ ideas or subheadings).

Know that not all advice is going to work for you

So spending all your time asking writers how to do things is not a worthwhile investment of your energy and resources. You will most likely learn best by doing over everything else. The reason you have found so much ‘conflicting’ advice about writing is because every single writer out there is giving advice based on their own experiences and routines – this blog included.

Don’t expect to figure out all the ‘right’ ways to get writing done just by looking. You are going to have to try, fail, try, succeed, try, fail, and try again. You will never figure out which methods work best for you if you do not try them out on your own. There is not ‘bad’ writing advice. There is just different advice from every single person. It really is as simple as that.

Is writing for free awful? Sometimes. Is it hard to be patient when you are trying to work your way up to bigger projects? Sure. Reading is time consuming, and figuring out what works and what doesn’t is, too. But this is how you build your skill set and establish yourself as a writer. If you think you are going to get handed anything without working for it … honestly? Good luck with that.

Hard work, positivity and patience will pay off – literally – eventually. Please, stop asking everyone who is published where to find websites that pay. Beef up your portfolio, apply for hundreds of jobs and don’t give up. It really isn’t complicated. Really. It’s all up to you. You can do it. You got this.

Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a freelance writer and an eight-time NaNoWriMo winner with work published in Teen Ink, Success Story, Lifehack and USA TODAY College. Follow Meg on Twitter.

Image courtesy of Mashable.

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