Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Working Writer: Where I've Been And Where I'm Going

I've been straggling the line between being a part-time and full-time freelance writer for over six years now. I wrote a lot of articles and other web content as as ghostwriter. The pay was terrible for the most part but it meant that my writing was bringing in money. My life circumstances as a stay-at-home dad made writing a great opportunity to contribute to my household finances while my wife worked outside the home. That has been the way of things during this whole long period of time.

While it may be staying the same in some respects, the fact that my children are older now and going to school is making me reassess my situation. I've had triumphs and setbacks in the last three years. I've published books through a small publisher I helped to start. I had hoped to transition to strictly writing books, but I haven't made enough revenue to justify the switch. I did, however, step away from writing web contents and articles for a long time.

Rebooting Freelance

Coming back was hard, yet I had to do something. The lack of income has taken it's toll on my household's finances. My wife is still working, still doing her part. I have to do mine. At this crossroads, I seriously considered finding some other job to make ends meet. The idea filled me with a peculiar dread. I had been writing for so long and fully intended to keep writing for a living. The trick was that I wasn't making a living as a writer. I was barely doing anything to bring in guaranteed income. Everything lately has been written on spec.

After the last payment on a client collaborative book was received, I thought I was going to find more books. I haven't. I continued to write short stories and I published some long fiction too, but still not enough income from sales to justify further focus. I've come to the point where I either have to fight hard to stay a freelance writer. I need to remember that this is a business--one that I need to restart from the ground up.

Steps To Take

I know that I need to find multiple income streams. That means finding more than one client. That means finding certain topics to specialize in on the one hand and also trying different areas of interest. I need to keep writing books when I can. Why? Because I want to write books. I want to tell stories. But I also want to be paid writer so I need to find opportunities to make good money at this. It can be a precarious thing to balance the creative and the practical sides of this business.

This is a business where you must be ever mindful of the next gig. You can't afford to sit back. I've made that mistake. I've fallen to a false sense of security. The book projects did that. The trick now is not repeating the mistakes and finding a way to thrive as a working writer.

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