Many people accidentally find themselves in a career due to a general lack of knowing what exactly they want to do with their life. Others test the water in a number of fields before deciding on a specific career path. No one route is right for everyone and some would even argue that luck and a sprinkle of 'who you know' might also have some bearing on your path through life.
Some of us decide on making the craft of writing our career. This can be achieved through specialised copywriting roles in agencies and corporations or by the ever exciting freelance route. If you are starting out as a freelance writer and you're unsure whether things are going as they should be, I've compiled a helpful little checklist to set your nerves at ease.
So before you go telling people you write for a living, read the information below:
You can call yourself a writer when…
You sign up to all the top freelancer sites and get no work from them
You enthusiastically stock your profile, watching your completion percentage increase incrementally till it's full. You take the tests, get some pretty awesome results and then decide to start 'bidding' for jobs.
Success - someone replied and is impressed by your credentials. You exchange pleasantries, discuss the job, send off a carefully considered (and even a bit cheaper than you should) quote and then…
Nothing. Not a sausage - that's the last you hear from them. Huh.
You bid for another job and it happens again. And again. And again.
While this is happening:
You become aware of just how expensive your lifestyle is
I love a good, proper coffee made from espresso. It's not cheap. Delicious though!
Maybe you smoke (naughty), perhaps you enjoy a busy and active social life. Whatever it is, when you're starting out on your own and you don't have a mattress stuffed full of cash to keep you in champagne, blinis and caviar, it'll become very apparent just how much money you spend on things you don't really need.
The moment of realisation isn't fun.
You are an expert at polite "my landlord doesn't accept 'good experience for my CV' as a form of payment" emails
You may even have one saved as a draft template, which is a terribly cynical thing to have to type.
Do writers not deserve to eat too, offerers of unpaid roles?
You've kept a PPI cold caller on the line just to have a conversation
What? Just me then?
Working at home is great - you save loads of cash not having to commute. It is nice to have people to talk to, though. My work Christmas party is currently in the running for 'The most depressing party, EVER' award … *sigh*
I'll be on first name terms with the postman before the year's out - you wait.
You spend far too much time on Twitter
Well, you were asleep for what - seven hours? You need to catch up on that, right?
What does that hashtag mean? I must don my Columbo trenchcoat and find out…
Ooh - someone is having a row - I must find and read the whole argument before drafting out a few replies, deleting them and deciding not to bother getting involved at all.
Oh look - it's three hours later.
I love Twitter.
You have to chase outstanding invoices and it makes you die inside
Tone is difficult to convey in an email. What you consider light-hearted and fun could be seen as difficult and abrupt by the person who reads it (apparently, smiley faces and funny gifs aren't 'professional'- pfft).
Once 30 days pass and your bank account remains as embarrassingly empty as ever, the thankless task of drafting your polite but firm "dude- where's my money" email takes place.
I dare you to just finish typing and send. It can't be done - you will spend half a day crafting and redrafting it and you know it.
But that's a good thing, surely? It would be weird if you enjoyed it.
You're still persevering, no matter how many false starts you get
All joking aside, if you're reading this and you're making a go of writing for a living, the fact that you are doing it is the critical thing. If you can stay motivated to keep looking for new clients and projects through all the non-starts and applications you hear nothing from, then you're winning the battle.
Once you get one client and do a good job for them, more will come. You just have to keep on keeping on. Unless you are a terrible writer. Then you should probably do something else. Perhaps you need to get someone you're not related to, who doesn't mind hurting your feelings a bit if necessary, to read some of your stuff...