Getting the Feet Wet
Starting out as a writer can be almost as overwhelming as that first jump out of an airplane. You know you have your parachute on, but you ask yourself "Is it going to open?"
In the world of the beginning writer, there are a lot of decisions to be made. Will I write fiction or non-fiction? Am I a journalist at heart, or am I more suited to being the creator of a fantastic realm of mystical characters? Do I want to write criticism, travel, food, science or technology, or any of hundreds of specific fields?
And then there is the question of how I want to get paid. Do I want to try my hand at freelancing, or do I need a steady paycheck? Very few writers start out making a living at writing, but there are opportunities available. There are jobs for staff writers of magazines, teachers and speech writers for politicians. So, how do you decide? Here are a few tips:
1. Know Yourself. What part of your soul do you need to satisfy? Freelancing is risky; you will probably need the "Real" job to pay your bills when you start out, and there is no guarantee that you will find a way to make it to the level where you can support yourself that way. But Freelancing is challenging and adventurous. The choices of what type of work you accept are not limited to someone else's vision, and you don't have to restrict yourself to a particular set of rules laid down by one employer. If that type of freedom is what you are looking for, this may be the option for you.
If, on the other hand, you need stability in your life or your income, you may want to look for a writing-related profession that has the perks of hourly paychecks and schedules. Staff writer for a magazine, editor or teacher will be better options for the less adventurous. The most important thing is to know what makes you happy, then apply.
2. Write your mission statement. Writing is an ego-driven business. By that I mean that most writers write because they have something to say, and to be successful each writer must fi
nd his own unique voice. This will not come from a boss, client, or reader. It comes from within. It is a process. Some writers seem to be born with an innate idea of who they are regarding their writing persona, but for most of us, it is a wonderful process of discovery that only comes through trial and error, so jump in with both feet. Get busy. Get to know what it is that you want to say, or what story you want to tell.
3. Don't allow yourself to be damaged by criticism. Stick yourself out there, and when you get smacked (Not if you get smacked, but when), don't shrink away. Instead, use it as a teaching tool. Most people can tell the difference between constructive criticism and bullying. Ignore the bully and move on, but consider what the critic has to say. Knowing the mind of the reader, be it skilled critic or audience, is invaluable to the writer for the honing of craft. Never shy away from a review of you work and never let harsh criticism decide for you if a writer is what you are.
4. Finally, just take a deep breath and dive in. There never will be an exact right time. Be brave. Write now.