Whether you’re a stay-at-home parent, retired, underemployed, or simply ready for a career change, there’s never been a better time to start your career as a writer. I know, because I did it after many years of being a corporate worker bee.
To help you reach your writing goals, I’m going to teach you my two best tips to jumpstart your own ideal version of the writer’s life.
So, let me ask you… what does your ideal version of the writer’s life look like?
- Is it a “barefoot” writer’s life — working from home in jeans, with a 30-second commute to the home office…
- Or, a traveling writer’s life — extended vacations with mornings spent typing on your laptop in a café and afternoons on the beach…
- Or, maybe it’s a happy family life — writing while the kids are at school with plenty of play time when they’re home…
Whatever vision you keep in your mind can come true. If you can dream it, you can achieve it.
The First Secret to Starting Your Career as a Writer
The power of visualization has been scientifically tested. A famous basketball study found that participants who “practiced” sinking free throws through visualization improved performance by 23 percent, almost as much as those who put in 30 hours of physical practice.
As a writer, you practice visualization skills every time you write. So, why not use this skill to paint the picture of your own successful future?
That’s what I did — I wrote out my perfect day of work. I wanted an early morning healthy routine — wake up, work out, meditate. I’d trade my stressful, sardine-can subway commute for a home office and plenty of writing time during my peak hours.
Plus, I wanted to make money while traveling. Then, I spent time “practicing” by imagining that my desired life was already here.
Guess what I got? In 2013, my first year of freelancing, my schedule became my own. I write in my home office, and my commute has reduced from 30 minutes to 30 seconds.
My husband and I traveled for six weeks for both pleasure and business in 2013. We went camping in Pennsylvania, ate barbecue and went to rock concerts in Austin, caught an Orioles game in Baltimore, went surfing at Rockaway Beach, and attended AWAI’s Bootcamp… all without having to ask any boss if I could take time off.
And, because living the writer’s life means I can write for clients from anywhere, I was able to earn money on two of our vacations.
So here’s how you get to where you want to be: Write out all the details of your perfect day of work. What hours do you spend writing? Do you write from home or an office? Do you drive, bike, or walk to work? What kinds of projects do you work on? Who else are you working with?
The more detail you have, the easier it will be to see it.
Once you’ve scripted your perfect day of work, visualize it once a day. Pretty soon, you’ll start to see elements of it come into your life.
How What You Already Know Can Help Your Writing Career
The second step in creating your ideal writer’s life is to use what you already know to start your career as a writer right now. Think of it as tapping into your personal super power (you have one, even if you don’t know it) to launch your writing career faster.
Start by looking back at your work history — what field do you know well that a generalist writer might not? This secret super power helps you stand out from other writers and makes you more likely to win that first freelance job.
This is how I transitioned from project manager to copywriter. I had experience editing other writers’ financial articles, and I knew how to manage projects. I eased into copywriting through an agency that focused on marketing collateral for financial services firms.
Even though I didn’t have much of a copywriting portfolio, I knew the language of finance enough to be able to write marketing materials.
What is your personal specialty? If you’re in computer programming, your technical knowledge gives you an edge to write for software companies. If you’re a teacher, you know more about how to write for the education market. And if you’re a stay-at-home parent, you know a lot about household management and raising kids.
How to Find a Specialty Outside Your Past Job Experience
If you’re dead set on leaving your current field behind, you can still use your unique expertise to win writing projects. Ask yourself these questions:
- If you have time off for vacations, how do you like to spend it?
- How do like to stay active? Are you more of an outdoor sports type, or do you spend time in the gym?
- Do you have any other hobbies — movie watching, coin collecting, reading?
- Do you volunteer — planting trees to save the planet, serving meals in a soup kitchen, or working with children?
- What causes are you passionate about?
Another way to find your focus: look at your bookshelf. What do you typically read? Are you into personal finance? Are you fascinated by personal growth? Are you an aspiring master chef or world traveler?
Don’t discount anything that holds your interest. You may be pleasantly surprised that not only is it possible to find projects aligned with your passions, but there are also plenty of companies that need your help. And with your specialized knowledge, they’ll be glad to hire you.
Sit down and make a list of topics related to your work experience that you could use to start your career as a writer. Add topics that you’re passionate about — look at your bookshelf, hobbies, and weekend activities for clues.
So there you have it. The two steps to getting your writer’s life launched as soon as possible are to start by writing out your ideal life to use as inspiration. Then, list all your possible areas of focus and choose one to start with.