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Thread: Any freelance writers out there?

  1. #1
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    Any freelance writers out there?

    Hi ENA friends...

    Wondering if anyone wants to share experience with freelance writing. Maybe someone who doesn't do this as a primary source of income. What was your experience level? Do enjoy it? Do you find it a flexible way to supplement your income?

    I'm exploring options for earning side income for my downtime (between unrelated work contracts). I like the idea of something that I can do at home...or on the road...or anywhere really. The income level itself isn't all that important to me at this stage...just looking to generate some ideas for viable options.

    Thanks! :)

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    Platinum Member bluecastle's Avatar
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    For me it’s been my primary source of income, so I may not be the best person to weigh in, but I’ll take a stab.

    Do I enjoy it? Sure, sometimes profoundly, though it’s also kind of crazy-making in a way I also enjoy—mental yoga for my inner masochist, you could say.

    It certainly affords a flexible life, which was a big draw for me. What I tell everyone is that you need a big stomach for rejection, because that’s basically all writing is. First the blank page rejects you, then the editors reject you, either flat out or in shades, demanding little changes that sometimes seem valid, sometimes break your heart.

    I don’t mean any of that to sound cynical. It kind of is what it is. The publishing industry is struggling right now, so it’s hard to extract money from it, though not impossible. As a supplement gig/pursuit, I think it’s awesome for the right temperament.

    Best part is? No experience require. You just take a stab, over and over, and see what happens.

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    I appreciate your input, bluecastle!

    This helps to temper my expectations. Honestly, I'm not sure I'd have the stomach for it...but perhaps the fact that I wouldn't be dependent on writing for my well-being in life would mitigate that.

    I like your last line. Just take a stab at it. How can anyone else know what my experience will be?

    Your circumstances may be different...but how do you get contracts/gigs?

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    Platinum Member bluecastle's Avatar
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    Well, I've been doing it a while now, so contacts/gigs are a mix of me reaching out to familiar editors, them reaching out to me, and the occasional moonshot into the unknown. I've been under contract at a few magazines for a number of years, so I've crossed a few thresholds. That said, day to day it doesn't feel much different than when I was starting out. On paper I am a "professional," and I publish frequently, but for every piece that's published there are 10 rejected ideas, at minimum. I take that kind of rejection the way I take most: "Their loss, too bad, forward movement."

    When I was younger/newer, I would just sit around, write stuff, send it off. Lots of essays, because that didn't require funding the way reporting does. I also write fiction, and once I'd put out a book that helped bring in work. I started before the web was big, but now it's a great place to carve out a voice, get some samples out there, if not so great on the $$ front.

    A good way to start is to find topics that are unique to you—that you're passionate about but also have some kind of "in" when it comes to writing. Editors aren't wowed by style and skill, contrary to popular opinion, or at least that's not the way past the gates; they like ideas, because they're confident they can turn mediocre copy into something readable.

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    ^^

    Time to brainstorm some ideas...

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    I would caution -from indirect knowledge -to make sure that we're you're getting the work from is legit.

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    Yes. Not for the faint of heart. The field is extremely competitive and brutal. To succeed, you need to not only write well, but often more importantly, have expertise in the specialty you wish to write about. Deadlines always loom. It is far from "gig work."

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    Originally Posted by abitbroken
    Yes. Not for the faint of heart. The field is extremely competitive and brutal. To succeed, you need to not only write well, but often more importantly, have expertise in the specialty you wish to write about. Deadlines always loom. It is far from "gig work."
    Do you think there are more casual opportunities out there? Where if it's not someone's primary means of earning a living the need to succeed is somewhat less critical?

    Do you have your own experience? Are you a writer? How did you start out?

    I appreciate the feedback. I don't expect that it'd be an easy thing to break into. More of a gradual process of trial and error...success and failure.

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    Originally Posted by 90_hour_sleep
    Do you think there are more casual opportunities out there? Where if it's not someone's primary means of earning a living the need to succeed is somewhat less critical?

    Do you have your own experience? Are you a writer? How did you start out?

    I appreciate the feedback. I don't expect that it'd be an easy thing to break into. More of a gradual process of trial and error...success and failure.
    1) Yes, if you want to work with no pay. If you plan on making quick money, might I suggest gig work? Uber/Lyft/display setting/babysitting?
    2) Success is always critical. Your work needs to be accepted somewhere, right?
    3) Yes.
    4) Yes.
    5) I don't wish to provide identifying details on an anonymous forum.

  11. #10
    Platinum Member bluecastle's Avatar
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    Correct me if I'm wrong, OP, but it sounds like your interest here has little to do with money—like, you're not looking at this as a way to pay rent—but in exploring writing in a way that is more than a hobby? Seeing about getting published, about maybe finding some outlets, seeing where it goes, and so on?

    I wouldn't use the word "casual" to describe that, because even getting there requires tremendous discipline. But I also don't think a writer needs to be an "expert" in anything. Sure, plenty are—crime writers, science writers, political writers, though even most of them became experts by, well, writing about the same thing for a long time.

    Meanwhile, there are a lot of people who dabble in all sorts of disciplines and topics, me being one of them. I very much identify as an amateur, a very curious one, and kind of find writing allows me to pursue that—the chance to kind of have a crash course on a subject that I find compelling.

    But, whimsical language aside, it's a grind, like anything, and a lonesome one. First steps: you want to write, ostensibly, because you read published things that you enjoy. So make a list of outlets you like, think about ideas for them, and figure out how to reach out. And, of course, start with realistic options—websites, local papers, etc.,

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