Writing is a frustrating profession, especially when you want to write for yourself.
Like, very frustrating.
You want desperately to spend more time at your keyboard or in your notebook. You want to pen words that really mean something to you. You want to write for yourself.
Yet you don’t. You work for someone else. Perhaps as a freelance writer, perhaps as a journalist at a small paper, perhaps as someone in another field altogether. And you can’t figure out how to make the jump.
Luckily, there is hope. Below are four of the best ways to make writing for others profitable for your own writing.
This works for any job, by the way, not just for people who are already in the writing sphere. When I worked for a bank, I wrote technical documents and nominations for business awards and holiday letters … basically anything they would give me. When I worked in education, I wrote papers on pedagogical technique and crafted long, drawn-out lesson plans and trainings.
Which is to say, you needn’t have created a writing career already. Every business needs a wordsmith, so look around. How can you help yours?
That said, we most of us want to write for ourselves, fulfill our own dreams. Who wants to clatter away at a register when they could instead work on the next great American novel?
That’s where the following tips come in.
Honing a witty voice is one of the best things to do if you want to write for yourself. This is for two reasons.
Firstly, because when you write the way you want to write, it makes working for other people feel like less of a burden. Sure, you’re not penning your Earth-shatteringly brilliant nonfiction book, but you are writing in a way that’s true to you.
Second, because it means that all those hours you spend working for someone else, you’re actually working for you. And that’s huge. If you can get in good practice while making money or making a difference at your day job, why wouldn’t you?
Of course, you might need a little help, which is where this course in humor writing comes in.
No matter how much writing you do for others – and trust me, because I’m a professional freelance writer – you won’t find satisfaction unless you set aside at least some room for you.
Unfortunately, your boss is unlikely to say, “Great job! Now go work on your book for a little bit. What? Oh, of course you should do it on company time!”
And if she does, please email me. I want to work there.
So you have to carve out your own writing time. Here’s a great way to balance writing priorities for others and yourself. Take a look through it and see which lessons apply to you, then put them in place.
Like I said above, any company has writing tasks that need doing. Yes, a pet store. Yes, a retailer. Yes, a legal firm.
Wherever you work, seek those out. Offer yourself. Can you write a flyer for an event? Can you write a newsletter for an upcoming sale? Could you help to promote a cause in which your business invests?
This might take some sticking-out of ye olde neck, but do it. You’ll enjoy your work better, and you’ll hone those skills you desperately want to use for a living.
The moment I learned that I didn’t know everything in the world, and therefore had much to learn, was the moment I finally freed myself and became a happy, full-time writer. I spent years in thankless jobs, flailing and trying to get others to notice my work.
It was only once I decided to educate myself on the craft that I started seeing results. The thing is, you’re the only one who is going to take your writing dreams seriously. If you’re lucky, a spouse will support you and your parents will tell you how great you are. But no one can make it happen but you.
So stop hoping you’ll “get great” one day with two hours of binge-writing a month. Stop expecting others to sit up and take notice, and just put your head down and work. Write for others as much as you can, because when you do, you’re actually writing for yourself.
You’re using your hands and your brain and your talents to do what you love, and that’s the best thing you can do to educate yourself.
In the meantime, I recommend you check out that humor writing course to add easy pep to your work. It will help your writing stand out, get you more assignments at work or from clients, and hey, maybe even make the world a funner place.
Yes, I stand by “funner.” Now good luck!
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