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How do I become a better freelancer and writer?

I ask myself that every single day, and I’m going to go right on asking it every day, until the day I retire. If you want to be writer, either of the freelance or novelist variety, you’ve chosen to walk a hard road, and it’s not going to get easier going forward, just more rewarding. Writing is one of those careers that many, many, people want–or think they want!–to be writers. This means there is constant competition, just like in other high-interest/low-opportunity fields.

Just like someone who wants to be a president, actor, CEO, musician, or pro-ballplayer, you need to accept from the outset that you will likely fail. That doesn’t mean you can’t write and enjoy, just like not making it to the majors doesn’t stop you from playing and enjoying sports, but it does mean you need to be realistic. This will probably not be your sole source of income moving forward.

If it’s ever going to be, you need to do three things, starting right now:

1. Treat writing like a job. Better yet, like a job-and-a-half. Most people fail right here. This is eight hours a day, every day. You need to get used to the idea that you can write five thousand words a day, minimum, as a matter of routine. Writer’s block isn’t a thing.

2. Learn all the rules, expand your style, forget your “voice”. I’m not saying you should abandon everything that makes your writing unique. What I’m saying is that a writer who has a “voice” is about as useful as a concert pianist who only plays Beethoven; no matter how well he plays the 5th, he’s not going to be getting picked up by the symphony.

3. Keep Learning. Expect to be learning a volume of information at least equal to your college workload, constantly, forever. If you can’t handle that, find a field with more stability. Learn some coding so you can compete for jobs on sites and with developers. Learn personal interaction skills so you can gain clients and connections. Learn to write appeals to emotion, appeals to logic, appeals to morality. Learn whichever subjects you write about deeply enough to write thing about them people haven’t ever thought about.

Do you want to be a better writer?

I know I do. I work at it every day, and I love the challenge. Will you join me (and my numerous guest bloggers) in pushing the limits of our craft?

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