Wanting to pump up your writing career is one thing, but doing it in a society that still doesn’t see writing as a job, can be discouraging.
It is annoying when people from my part of the world frown at the word, writing, or writer. There was a time when I came in contact with people who asked what I do. I told them I write. Hahahaha… You need to see them frowning, turning their noses up and asking, “what’s that”. As if to say I’m joking. One person actually asked, well, do they pay you for this? How do you make money? And then I went on explaining in details, what I do, and left him nodding in awe.
Ok. Enough of me. Let’s come to you. As a writer, you need to continuously sharpen your writing skills, if you must be taken seriously and sort after by the big clients. Like I tell anyone who cares to listen, writing for yourself is completely different from writing for a client. And if you’re going to up your game while running your full-time job, you need constant practice; constant writing.
Truth is, you don’t need to quit your job, if you don’t want to, for a full-time writing career, especially, if that career has not yet grown enough to pay your bills and upkeep.
Now if your writing is just a hobby. Then, that’s what it is. And that’s what it will remain. Don’t even think of quitting your job. But if you treat it as a career/business, then that’s what it will be for you. The hours you spend on your laptop writing doesn’t make a hobby writer a career writer overnight. Attitude matters too.
You can’t be a writer and spend all your spare time watching TV, visiting restaurants or just hanging out with friends. I’m not saying these things are not good. They are, especially for relaxation and boosting of creativity. But you have to have/create time to actually put in a good work. And if you can put in some in-depth work, you will achieve more in a few minutes than a lot of hobby writers achieve in 24 hours.
Career writers dream of making good money out of their craft, and even leaving their full-time jobs for it. But not yet, as you still need a solid income to pay your bills while you grow your writing career.
While at it, you may try to manage your time, but then, life always happens. You suddenly have an emergency at work, or something comes up and your work-load doubles. You’ve got deadlines to meet, or company events to prepare towards, or social gatherings to attend.
All these take up your free time and when you get home at night, you’re totally fagged out.
So how do you keep up with honing your writing skills daily, getting clients and delivering a perfect work to them in a timely manner? See all the hacks below:
1) Set Your Writing Goal
Know what writing goal you want to achieve, and be realistic about how you are going to achieve it. Don’t tell yourself you’re going to spend 2 or 3 hours writing when you have a very busy job and a family waiting for you at home.
Your partner may not be so understanding, as to allow you to write the night away when he/she needs some cuddling or someone to share the day’s activities with.
So instead of telling yourself, I’ll put in four hours of work today, tell yourself, I’ll hit a target of 1000 to 2000 words today. And if you have free opportunities, like lunchtime or a little rest from work at the office, you can write something down.
If you keep returning to that writing between intervals, you will actually hit your target word count by the time you’re home and done for the day.
Another way to beat this is waking up early to write. If you normally start getting dressed for work at 5 AM. Then you can wake up at about 3:00, or 3:30 AM to write.
I started and completed my Second Book, Fantasy Island – The Stolen Globe, using the early morning option. I was still teaching at a school then, and I used to start preparation from 5:00 AM. So I’ll get up at 3, sometimes 4 AM, to start writing.
So have a target word count, and do all you can during each day, to meet up with it.
2) Have an Organized Writing Schedule/Outline.
For a writer, having a drawn up timetable is awesome. No, it is not so easy to brainstorm topics for your timetable. But at least, your table should tell you what you should be working on per day. If you’re to write a chapter of your book, a blog post, a research article or even a social media post, a story, or a website copy, or a client’s job, put it in your schedule.
You will also need an outline. If you do not have an outline of the tasks you’re supposed to handle, you will find yourself sitting for hours, pondering what to write about or how to write it.
Before I started writing “Faith Weds, Not Grace,” I drew up a detailed outline and then began to flesh it out. With an outline, you can never get confused. And when you sit to write, you know exactly what you should be trying to picture with words.
3) Read People’s Works
To help fuel your creativity, you need to read other people’s works. You may ask, where’s the time to read? Once in a while, take public transport instead of driving yourself, so you can have time to read as you make your way to work.
You can also get reading apps. There are a lot of them on Google Play Store. All you need to do is get a PDF or word copy version of the book you want to read, put it in the app reader and press play. It will read to you as you make your way to work, either by public transport or your own private car.
Before I was able to write Strange Man at Iri, I read one of Erica Ridley’s book about a Vampire that didn’t know he was a vampire. It is a paranormal romance novel and although the storyline in Strange Man at Iri is totally different from that of Erica Ridley’s book, reading it helped boost my creativity for my own book.
4) Pay Attention to the People Around You
If you ever get lost about what to write, look at yourself and then the people and all the happenings around you. I never took this advice seriously until I started to write full time. And now I understand that every story out there was written based on people. As long as you’re in contact with people, you’re in contact with wonderful stories.
You could write about your 8-5 job. You could write about your colleagues, family, and friends. You could write about your neighbors, or even the strangers you come in contact with on a daily basis.
5) Have Fun
Watching nice TV programs, mixing with colleagues, and just having a good time at work can help fuel your creativity, especially when you start to see everyone and every conversation as a story starter.
6) Make Your Works/Stories Accessible at all Times.
Save your documents to your Google Drive account so that even if you’re at work, and you need to take a peep to correct something or do some writing tasks, you would be able to.
It is mostly a killjoy when you cannot access your work. and it may prevent you from doing any form of writing until you can access it.
7) Have a Portable Writing Device
Don’t fail to go about with a portable writing device, as it helps you quickly take notes and engage in a series of quick writing. It helps you get work done.
I tell anyone who cares to listen, you must research. Or, simply put, ask Google. If you get lost about what to write or how to write it, ask Google. Why? Because there’s almost nothing you are going to write about that someone, somewhere, hasn’t written about to some extent. Plus researching, even for fiction works, helps give your work credibility and facts that will make readers want to read more of what you’ve written.
9) Keep Writing, And Keep Hitting Your Targets.
Truth be told, you can’t wake up one morning, without work/consistency of any kind, and have a successful writing career. It is your track record of delivering quality write-ups, and in time too, that will lead you to the success and achievement you crave for. In other words, be consistent.
You can find writing jobs via word of mouth, social media and job hunting platforms like Problogger’s job board, Nairaland, Instagram etc. So you can include it in your schedule to look out for jobs. Another thing to do is write social media posts, they could be stories, research works or just rants about you, your experiences and what you do. And people will contact you for writing jobs.
You can also start and grow a blog where you discuss your writing career and offer your services to clients. Also, checkout this list of over 580 online sites that pay $50-$500 for written works.
11) Use Your Job Experiences to Build Skills.
If you handle marketing, customer service, presentations, etc. you’d find that a lot of these things help you portray yourself and your ideas better. Don’t overlook it, because you might someday find yourself needing to make a pitch to prospective clients someday.
Got any questions? I look forward to them in the comments. Please don’t forget to share. Someone really does need this.