There’s this misconception in the writing world that all writers make up their own rules. They’re their own bosses; they write what they want, when they want. They never write anything they don’t want to write.
This may be true for some, especially those on the more successful side of the profession, but it’s certainly not the case for everyone.
There are plenty of writers out there who swear they could never stand being told what to write about, as freelance writers often do. You might be one of those writers. While there’s nothing wrong with wanting to write what you want to write, there are also a few benefits to training yourself to write about anything pretty much on command.
You need to prove you are well-rounded
It doesn’t matter if you write novels or articles or essays; being able to showcase your ability to write about a variety of topics is more of an advantage than you might think. While it does pay to be an expert on one subject, that doesn’t come easily; it takes a lot of time and a lot of publishing experience (and probably an academic background of sorts) before you can technically call yourself an expert. The more topics you can research and write about, the more in demand you will technically become. Basically, you’re only helping yourself.
Let’s be honest: you need a little discipline, too
Discipline is what gets you writing consistently and keeps you writing even when you don’t feel like it. Being on assignment, having instructions for exactly how to write something for someone else, and a deadline by which it needs to be finished, is a major wake-up call. Doing it over and over and over again is, essentially, a life lesson – in terms of life as a writer, at least. If you’re anything like me, you’re not always the best at following through on deadlines and getting things done on your own. This gets better the more you take orders from someone else (along with the knowledge that, someday, you’ll be able to do it all on your own again).
Staying comfortable means an early demise for your career
A little dramatic? Of course. The longer you stay in your comfort zone, the more slowly you will progress in your writing career. I wrote 40 articles for a men’s fashion website as one of my very first assignments as a freelance writer. It was hard and I went into it knowing nothing about any of the topics they asked me to write about. But I came out of that experience with the belief that, if I ever needed to, I really could write about anything. It stretched out my comfort zone. As long as you let it stretch, and don’t let it shrink back down to its previous size, you’re going to notice a difference in your confidence level … and a much more promising writing career.
In the real world, we don’t always get to write what we want to write. But it’s the lessons we learn along the way, and the creative strength and versatility we build along the way, that make this reality worth it.
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 for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.
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