Weekly Writing Challenge: Plan for Your Writing Future

It can be a common misconception that being a freelance writer is an "anyone can do it" kind of career. I'd imagine most of you reading this blog know that's simply not true. A successful career as a writer means that you have to do a lot more than just dream about being a famous novelist or enjoying a "cushy" career in your pajamas writing for clients. You have to plan.

This week think about your long-term dreams and writing goals, and work on developing a solid plan to reach those goals and make those dreams come true.

Have you always wanted to write a book, but you don't think you'll ever get started? Do you want to become a full-time freelance writer, but aren't sure about how to fully transition out of a 9 - 5 job? Start taking the steps now to make those things happen.

Break your main goal (writing a novel as an example) into several smaller goals (perhaps a goal would be an outline, and another goal to finish each chapter, etc.). This helps to take away the overwhelming feelings that sometimes prevent us from working towards our bigger goals in our writing careers.

Next, give yourself deadlines to reach each of those smaller goals, and figure out a reward system that might help to motivate you to take action.

Put the effort into planning now. Then start taking the small steps necessary to reach your larger goals in time. No one's stopping you from reaching them but you.

Profile image for Jennifer Mattern

Jennifer Mattern is a professional blogger, freelance business writer, consultant, and indie author. She runs numerous websites & blogs including All Freelance Writing, Freelance Writing Pros, NakedPR, and Kiss My Biz.

Jenn has 25 years' experience as a professional writer and editor and over 20 years' experience in marketing and PR (working heavily in digital PR, online marketing, social media, SEO, new media, and thought leadership publication). She also has 19 years' professional blogging and web publishing experience (including web development) and around 18 years of experience as an indie author / publisher.

Jenn also writes fiction under multiple pen names and is an Active member of the Horror Writers Association.

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4 thoughts on “Weekly Writing Challenge: Plan for Your Writing Future”

  1. I have a question. I’m an undergraduate student, and I’ll be graduating next year in March 2008. If I plan to embark on a freelance writing career (i.e. writing features for different publications), is it ok for me to plan ahead and plunge straight ahead or should I get a decent 9-to-5 job first before planning to have a freelance career? thanks.

  2. It’s certainly not impossible to jump right into freelancing after college, but do so with the following cautionary tid-bits in mind:

    1. Most freelancers will fail. Harsh, but it’s true. That includes freelancers who do come from solid 9-5 backgrounds, but by going into it without experience, you’re probably stacking the decks even more against yourself.

    2. If you don’t have adequate experience built up yet, you may find yourself competing for the incredibly low-paying gigs like many new writers. That’s not only a contributing factor to failure (because you’ll find it very difficult to make even a modest full-time income in many areas of the world without pushing to the point of burning out), but it’s a very difficult business model to break out of (those pieces are nearly worthless in a portfolio for higher paying clients later, and you’ll be so busy cramming in low-paying gigs to make ends meet that you won’t have time to find higher paying gigs).

    3. I’m not sure what your degree is in, but you’ll almost always earn more money as a specialist as opposed to a generalist. There are a lot of people who think something like an English degree qualifies them to write absolutely anything (not even close to the case), and you’ll find a lot of them stuck in those low-paying gigs I mentioned previously (those of them that jumped in without experience or proper business planning at least). If that’s the kind of route you want to take, I’d suggest choosing a specialty and building work experience to develop your credentials in that niche first. If you have a specialized degree (such as computer engineering if you wanted to become a technical writer, or a marketing degree if you want to be a copywriter for examples), you may have an easier time earning a significant income fresh out of school. Remember… a lot of the higher-paying clients are paying for your expertise as much as, if not more than, you actual writing ability.

    That’s not to discourage you. I just hope that you’re looking at the reality of the situation so you can plan accordingly to avoid those pitfalls. I went out on my own just a few years after college. I was a specialist in a business niche (and in a narrower niche that not many in my industry were pursuing at the time I started), making it much easier for me.

    If you have a niche carved out, and you have credentials and have built a solid portfolio through college, then you may very well find freelance success right out of college. It won’t happen in most cases, but you’ll never know unless you try (and I certainly understand the appeal). 🙂 At the same time, there’s nothing wrong with finding a full-time job and writing part-time as a freelancer in the beginning. Once you’ve established yourself a bit more with clients, you can always move to full-time freelancing.

  3. Thanks a lot for the advice. Actually I’m a communications major in a prestigious college in the Philippines, and I have taken up basic news wrting, features and review writing, and even a few workshops on creative nonfiction. Would that suffice for a freelancing job? Since I’m thinking of becoming a food and travel writer, can you recommend me a few sites where I can get a shot at freelancing (or for starters, for reading)? Thanks!


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