Sunday, July 17, 2011

Writing Fanfiction Can Help Start Your Freelance Writing Career

By Michelle Carlbert

If you're anything like me, you've been writing fanfiction for years, enjoying the freedom it allows you to create stories involving your favorite characters and taking part in a community with other writers who give helpful feedback.

But did you know that writing fanfiction can also help you start a new career? By writing fanfiction, you are honing valuable skills that you can use as a freelance writer.

Here are some things that writing fanfiction can teach you about becoming a freelance writer.


Maybe you don't think of it this way but every time you've promised your rabid fans that the next chapter of your WIP (work in progress) was coming "in one week, I promise!" you were setting yourself a deadline. Making that deadline no matter what real life throws your way means that you've just learned one of the most important part of being a freelance writer - hitting your deadline.

Handling criticism.

When you post your fanfiction out there for the world to see, you also open yourself up to criticism. We've all had it happen - you post a story that you worked tirelessly on and suddenly someone comes up and (gasp!) dislikes it. Well guess what? Freelance writers have to deal with people like that all the time, they're called editors, and the faster you learn to deal with them the easier your freelance writing career will be. If you genuinely listen to the people who comment on your fanfiction, honestly look at what suggestions they made or why they didn't like your story and reply politely, well then you're ready to deal with an editor.

Dealing with writer's block.

Writer's block is something every writer has to deal with, whether they write fanfiction or anything else. If you've managed to complete even a single fanfiction story then I'm sure you've figured out a way to deal with your own writer's block. Busting through that invisible barrier isn't easy and by doing it with fanfiction, you've shown yourself that you can write, even when the words don't come easily. Once again, this is an invaluable skill for a freelance writer.

These are just a few ways that writing fanfiction can turn from a fun hobby into a career. Take your talent and all those skills you've learned and use them!

Michelle (also known by her pen name "Mokibobolink") is a freelance writer, editor and blogger with a love for fanfiction and how it can help new writers. She started a blog ("Moki's Fanfiction Blog") as a forum for fanfiction readers and writers to discuss their favorite hobby, provide helpful tips to new writers, give lists of her favorite stories and sites to find great fanfiction.

How to Build a Successful Freelance Writing Career

By N Williamson

A freelance writing career is one that allows you to have the flexibility to work at home on a schedule that you set for yourself. However, while it may seem simple, it actually takes work and time to build this kind of career. If you want a career in freelance writing that is lucrative and successful, here are a few important steps that you can follow.

Keep Your Day Job

When you are starting out in your freelance writing career, it's important that you keep your day job in the beginning. It's a good idea to begin developing your skills while you are still working at least part-time. While you can earn enough money in this career to support yourself, it will take some time before you begin making that much money and there is also a bit of a learning curve. Until you get to the point that you think you can support yourself solely with your writing, you'll want to keep another job.

Take Time to Diversify

As you are working to build a freelance writing career, you need to take some time to diversify the companies that you write for. There are a variety of companies out there that pay up front for writing. Others may offer you some residual income as well. While many people like to be paid up front, there are also benefits to residual income. Starting out with various projects and various websites is a great idea in case writing for one gets a bit slow. If you diversify your writing, you'll be able to make sure you can make enough money to support yourself.

Don't Forget About Taxes

Many people who get started in a freelance writing career never think about taxes. Most companies that hire freelancers will not take out the taxes. This means that you should be saving money out of your paychecks to make sure that you can pay the taxes when tax time comes around. This way you won't be hit with a huge amount of tax debt on April 15th.

Realize You May Not Always Be Able to Choose Topics

While it is always great to write about topics you like, when you first get started in your freelance writing career, you need to realize that you may not always be able to choose the topics that you want to write about. You will probably have to start out writing about a variety of different things.

Be Ready to Work

There are some people who have the idea that a freelance writing career is easy. However, it does really to take a lot of work. You'll need to do your research, there is time spent writing, and you'll have to edit your own work as well. There are plenty of benefits you can enjoy and so long as you work hard and stay disciplined, you will increase your chances of being successful.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

A Roadmap For Your Fiction Writing Career

By Randall Ingermanson

What's the dirtiest word in a writer's lexicon? Think about that for a minute before you read on. What's the worst thing you can call a fellow writer?

Here's what many writers would say: "Unpublished."

I've met a ton of writers at writing conferences. To break the ice, I usually ask them what they're working on. They'll spend ten minutes telling me all about their novel. Then, if they've not sold a book yet, they'll hang their heads like they're admitting to being a drug dealer or a congress-critter and mutter, "But I'm (shudder) unpublished."

Let's just dump that word. I've got a better one. When I was in college, I knew a lot of students who were hoping to get into med school. Some of them eventually made it. Some didn't. But here's the thing: I never heard any of them saying they were "unmedical" students. They said they were "pre-med."

I wish all writers would quit calling themselves "unpublished." I think it would be a whole lot smarter to use the word "pre-published."

Why is this important? Because the way you think about yourself influences whether you succeed or not. And how long it takes you to succeed.

I spent about 16 years pre-published (counting from the day I decided I was gonna write me a novel till the day I saw one of my novels on the bookstore shelf.) That's not at all uncommon. I've got friends who took longer. I've got friends who did it much quicker. I took way too long, and I suspect my own attitude had a lot to do with it.

I believe it should take about four years to get to publishable quality in your fiction. Some writers will be quicker, some slower, but four years is reasonable. I've got a longish article on my web site that explains the whole theory behind this:

The bottom line is that I classify pre-published writers into four categories, Freshmen, Sophomores, Juniors, and Seniors. At each stage, there are specific tasks you need to accomplish to advance to the next stage.

You may be a Freshman, a Sophomore, a Junior, a Senior, or even a Graduate. If you aren't happy with how your career is going, then here are five steps you can take to get back on the road to where you want to go.

1) Take inventory of yourself. What level of writer are you? Do your writing friends agree? Do published authors agree? If you think you're a Senior and everybody else thinks you're a Sophomore, then there's a problem. Being a Sophomore doesn't mean you're a bad writer. It means you're not fully trained yet. There's a difference. Figure out where you are.

2) Make a long-term goal for yourself. If you've figured out that you're a Freshman, then a reasonable long-term goal is to graduate in about four years. Whereas if you're a Senior, then a reasonable goal is to graduate THIS year! Please note that you need to realistically think about whether this writing game is for you. You may wind up spending the next four or five years training to write fiction, and then end up NEVER getting published. Does that make you chuck your cheeseburgers? If so, then go find another career. Pick a safer one, like wing-walking or cliff diving or lion taming.

3) Make a short-term goal for yourself. Rome wasn't built in a nanosecond, and you won't learn neurosurgery or tennis or fiction in a few days or weeks or months. Can't be done. What can you reasonably do in the next three months? In the next year? For my short-term goals, I ask myself what I'm weakest at and what I'm strongest at. Then I work on improving just those two areas of my writing.

4) Get yourself some advisor's. You are the average of the five people you hang out with most. Change your hang-out group, and you just might change your behavior! Find some advisor's who are at a similar stage in their careers, writers who are positive thinkers and are dedicated to advancing. (If you're a Sophomore, hang out mostly with other Sophomores, and maybe a few Freshmen or Juniors). Your advisor's won't be in this just for you. They'll be in it for them too. They'll advise you, and you'll advise each of them. This is often called a Mastermind Group or a Dream Team or whatever. Get yours. No less than five. No more than six. This is NOT the same as a critique group. These are career advisor's, not craft polishers.

5) Map out a plan to meet your short-term goal. If you're not sure what to do, ask your advisor's. That's what they're there for. If they don't know, figure out who does. Share what you learn with your advisor's. Do everything you possibly can to help them succeed. They'll return the favor in spades.

6) I promised five steps, but you get a bonus sixth: Go do it. Put your plan into practice. Meet regularly with your advisory group. Keep each other accountable. If your plan isn't working, figure out why. If you don't know why, figure out whom to ask. Get help! Give help! Work your plan until you reach your short-term goal. Then set a new one.

That's all! It's pretty simple, but don't kid yourself -- it isn't easy. Learning to write fiction is hard work, and if you don't like that, then quit. Quitting IS easy and you'll get to watch more TV and probably have a better love life. You just won't ever get published, but you won't really care, or you'd be willing to do what it takes.

But the fact is, you can't quit and you won't. Because writing is in your blood. When writing is in your blood, you're going to do what it takes to succeed. You're going to assess where you are. You're going to make a plan. You're going to execute that plan.

That's what writers do.

Randy Ingermanson is the award-winning author of six novels and one nonfiction book. He is known around the world as "the Snowflake Guy" - a tribute to his invention of the widely used "Snowflake method" of designing a novel. Randy has a Ph.D. in theoretical physics and is the publisher of the world's largest electronic magazine on writing fiction, the free monthly Advanced Fiction Writing E-zine, with over 8000 readers. Visit his web site today:

What If My Whole Writing Career Has Been Wrong?

By Beth Erickson

I've been writing professionally for nearly 15 years. I've seen a lot of ups and downs, triumphs and disasters.

As an industry, freelancing has transformed more times than I can count, the big-wigs of yesteryear have been replaced and today's big-wigs will invariably be a fond memory someday.

Overall, freelancing has been good, helped me achieve many of the objectives I set out to achieve.

One thing I didn't expect, however, is how easy it is to fall off track. I share this story with you in the hopes that you don't fall into the same trap(s) I did.

Back when I was working with my Creative Mindset Group, I always emphasized the importance of Polaris. If you're unaware with this concept, here's a quick explanation: Sailors worldwide could navigate earth's vast oceans (at least in the Northern Hemisphere) because they fixed their heading based on the position of Polaris, our North Star.

Polaris is positioned directly above the North Pole. This means that despite the earth's continual rotation, Polaris is the only star that doesn't appear to move across the night sky. Instead, it remains fixed in its position, allowing reliable ship navigation.

So, theoretically speaking, no matter where you are (in the Northern Hemisphere), if you can't find your way, all you need to do is look up, find Polaris, and you'll be able to navigate your way back on track. Cool, eh?

Now, time for my quick story.

I begin my writing career with a message in my soul and a song in my heart. Along the way, I discovered that making a living as a freelancer was a little more challenging than I expected. Turns out, I'm not only expected to know how to write, I must spin a great yarn, I must persevere in a tough profession, and most horrifying of all, I must learn to sell my writing.

It's a tall order.

So, setting my ultimate dream (my Polaris) aside, I embarked on the long process of perfecting my craft (still have a ways to go on that count, I'm sure), keeping my mindset strong, and mastering various components of the persuasive process, i.e. marketing, just to name a few challenges.

That's about the time things started going a bit amok for me.

While I rather enjoy exploring these techniques, they are mere tools to propel me towards my ultimate goal... my Polaris. However, none of them are my "official" Polaris.

Sadly, for far too many years, my life rotated around these exact activities. I studied writing, I immersed myself in mindset issues, I lived, breathed, and ate everything I could get my hands on when it came to mastering marketing techniques. In fact, I even became a professional copywriter for a time.

Ah, the incredible detours we take.

Bad part was that my ultimate dream, my Polaris,languished, patiently waiting for me to come to my senses.

And here's where it gets really interesting.

I firmly believe that we're born with in in-born navigation system, a way we can instantly know when we're on a path contrary to our Polaris. Whenever I'm working on a project that is in harmony, something that is leading me closer to my ultimate goal, I feel great. I'm in the creative zone. I love it. Challenges hardly feel like challenges because I find the whole process so invigorating.

When I'm working on a project that isn't in harmony with my Polaris, I feel a resistance, an annoying niggling feeling that makes it hard to write. I have to force myself to the computer to get moving. The whole process has a dark pallor about it.

When I experience these negative sensations, I know I need to reevaluate the project and examine whether it will enhance my ultimate goal, or whether I should pass the project on to another writer who may find joy working on it.

I know. Easier said than done.

It's hard to turn down projects. It's only the daring who have courage to run after their own dreams, especially when you've got a few dollars at stake.

My theory is that talented people are capable of a lot. However, just because you have the ability to do something doesn't mean you should. We have a finite amount of time per day. How will you spend that time; writing something truly heart felt and empowering, or slaving over a project you took on for the sole purpose of earning a few bucks. The old adage is true: You earn every cent when you take on a project solely for the money.

Somewhere along the line, you'll have to decide whether you'll follow your personal Polaris, your life purpose, or allow yourself to be side tracked by the myriad of possibilities that could, in essence, be valuable, but may leave you wondering at the end of your career, "What if my whole writing career has been wrong?"

Beth Ann Erickson is a compulsive writer, author of seven titles, and editor of Writing Etc., the free zine for writers. Get her first novel when you sign up as a VIP member of new newsletter. It's free, fabulous, and fun.