Writers are just like piano players.
There, I said it – people who write for a living are just like a pianist. In what way? The more you practice the better you sound (or read).
If you’ve ever played a musical instrument, then you know that there was a time when you sounded dreadful. However, if you stuck at it then your skills eventually improved, perhaps to the point where people actually enjoyed how you played. Maybe they even paid good money to listen to you in person.
Push Yourself To Succeed
Throughout my life, my writing skills have ebbed and flowed. While in high school, I had a literature teacher who encouraged me to write, pointing out my strengths while helping me conquer my weaknesses. Run-on sentences were my chief scourge back then, something I eventually mastered through consistent writing.
In college, my term papers were rewarded with high grades because I researched each topic thoroughly, taking the time to fine tune my drafts until I was ready to type my report on an electric typewriter, double-spaced, with no smudge marks please.
Use It Or Lose It
But as with any skill, if you don’t use it you lose it. A restaurant manager’s job followed by a nonprofit gig and six years had passed me by before I got to write consistently again. Even then, I was tasked with writing technical manuals primarily with the occasional newsletter thrown in. I hated the former and craved the latter, a point my boss made note of.
Seven years ago the dreaded technical writing job ended which put me at a critical crossroad. Should I look for employment or should I strike out on my own? I chose the latter and haven’t looked back (okay, the occasional glance over my shoulder when things were particularly gloomy), doing what needed to be done in order to get the job done.
Put Your Career In Gear
Which brings me to the whole point of this piece – if you’re looking for work or are desiring a career change you have to start someplace which may include doing a few freebie projects in order to build your portfolio. Specifically, if you’re wanting to write and you need to show your “clips” in order to pull down paid opportunities, consider taking on the following tasks:
- Write articles for a quality article directory such as EzineArticles.com which happens to be one of the best ones out there. Show yourself no mercy; submit only your best work to this site. Labor over your article(s) until you believe that you have created a masterpiece.
- Contribute an original article to a blog in order to get your name out there. I currently manage six blogs and welcome (related) contributions for each one. However, many of the submissions I have received have been sub-par, demonstrating that the writer hasn’t done his/her research or has written poorly. Usually both. Find a blog of interest to you and ask the blogger if he/she welcomes submissions.
- Contact a non-profit or charity and ask them if they need some writing completed. Many organizations still produce hard copy newsletters while others have blogs that haven’t been updated in ages. Interview someone, write a feature story, explain a new service, etc. Write like you’re getting paid big bucks – you’ll come away from the project with your needed clips and a solid recommendation.
Keep It Up
Once you get a few articles under your belt, you’ll begin to notice a couple of things – your writing has improved and your confidence has gotten a much needed boost. Expect criticism, but learn to deal with it even if delivered to you with ill intent.
The accomplished pianist got to where she is through countless hours of hard work; if you want to succeed as a writer, then you must be relentless in your pursuit of excellence as well.
See Also — Is It Time For You To Raise Your Rates?