Janice Hanna Thompson

Janice Hanna Thompson—a south Texas native—is the author of over sixty novels and non-fiction books for the Christian market. She supplements her fiction habit by writing magazine articles, devotions, write-for-hire books and more. One of the chief joys of Janice’s life is training writers to earn a living with the written word. Check out Janice’s “Becoming a Successful Freelance Writer,” course at www.freelancewritingcourses.com. The ten lessons in this course were developed to strategically train freelance writers to earn top dollar. Each lesson includes an audio file (mp3 for download), a corresponding audio script, a downloadable worksheet, a power point video, a bonus feature, and full access to the site’s forum. Email Janice at booksbyjanice[at]aol[dot]com to learn more, or visit her website at www.janicehannathompson.com.

In the Beginning . . . the Writer Set Goals

You must have long-range goals to keep you
from being frustrated by short-range failures.

—Charles C. Noble

You’ve made up your mind. Not only are you going to polish that novel, making it the best it can be, but also you’re going to earn extra money on the side by freelancing. Congratulations! You’re in good company. Many aspiring novelists bide their time writing magazine articles and drumming up write-for-hire work on the side. And those who are genuinely interested in earning a living with their writing handle the decision to freelance like a pro. There’s really no other way to approach it if you’re hoping to be successful. Kicking off a freelancing career without a clear strategy is the equivalent of playing darts while blindfolded. What you end up with is a wall full of holes and a near-empty dartboard.

Freelancing is risky business. However, you can ease your way into it, lowering the risks as you go. Strategize. Set clear goals. Remember to keep your eye on the prize: a steady income. And also remember that you’re building a platform, which will come in handy once that novel is released.

When you think about the word goals, what comes to mind? Daily word count? Number of articles submitted per week? A dollar amount? As I pondered this word, I thought about the goals for my career, fiction and nonfiction included. I came up with an acronym—GOALS—which I hope you will find helpful.

G: Grab Hold of the Dream

Writers are dreamers. No doubt about it. We have all sorts of grandiose plans. There’s nothing wrong with being a dreamer. If you don’t believe it, take a look at the biblical character of Joseph. Oh, sure, his seemingly over-the-top dreams landed him in a pit, but God propelled him out of that low place and eventually gave him the desires of his heart.

What dreams has God placed on your heart? Do you long to see your novel on bookstore shelves? Are you hoping to publish an article in a major magazine? Are you aspiring to earn “big bucks” with your writing, speaking, or teaching skills? You are not alone. Thousands—if not millions—have walked this road before you. If you could poll them, the resounding message would likely be: “Acknowledge the dream. Go for it!” I would suggest you make it real by writing it down. Journal about it. Latch on to it and don’t let go. Don’t give room to the dream-snatchers.

Remember, God-breathed dreams are just that . . . God breathed. You have nothing to apologize for. The most successful entrepreneurs across the globe typically started out as starry-eyed dreamers.

O: Own the Responsibilities

Freelancing is a business and you have to think like a businessperson if you’re going to succeed. As with all new businesses, you will encounter risks (financial, time away from family, time away from your novel, etc.). However, you could make money, and the desire/need to earn that extra income often outweighs any risks.

If you’re thinking about diving in, be strategic and work with your personality, your body clock, and your financial needs. Don’t lock yourself into a deadline or pace that doesn’t suit you. Move forward with direction and purpose. Don’t let the “little foxes” catch you off guard.

If it’s been a while since you read the story of Nehemiah, you might want to go over it again to refresh your memory. There’s no greater example of someone owning the day-to-day responsibilities associated with a seemingly impossible task. Build that wall, writers! And own the responsibilities associated with it.

A: Accept the Challenges

Some writers have a skewed idea of what their life will be like as a writer. They anticipate glorious days of pouring out beautiful stories, articles, and devotions, and receiving fantastically large paychecks. There will be amazing moments, but you’re likely to face challenging days, as well. Maybe you’ve blocked out four hours to write, but your daughter gets sick and has to go to the doctor. Or maybe you’ve spent the morning working on a particular article only to find out the editor wants something completely different.

Life gets in the way, my friend. You can’t control it. But you can control how you react to the challenges. You can curl up under the covers, wishing you’d taken that job at McDonald’s, or you can lift your head and plow forward. Choose to lift your head and your heart.

Lest you think you’re alone in your day-to-day challenges, think of Job, that poor fellow whose life was interrupted at every turn by catastrophe. He had two choices: Curse God and die, or bless God and live. As you face the many challenges inherent to freelancers, choose to bless God. Praise your way through.

L: Listen Up!

As a novelist and a freelancer, you’ll face many forks in the road. How will you know which way to turn? Perhaps you’re offered a book deal that seems out of this world . . . but you have a “check” in your spirit. Do you follow the trail toward possible fortune and fame, or follow the voice of the Holy Spirit? Maybe you want to “brand” yourself but can’t figure out which way to go. How do you decide?

When you reach those inevitable forks in the road, listen up! God’s still, small voice is there to lead you. Tune out the clamor of other voices—well-meaning friends and critique partners, as well as the naysayers—God will guide you if you let Him.

When you reach that next bend in the road and don’t know which way to turn, think about Ruth. She hit several “forks” in her journey, but she prayerfully moved forward, eventually receiving the fulfillment of the promise.

S: Stay the Course

Writers tend to be a little schizophrenic. They change their minds. One day they want to write a historical, the next day they’re writing a cozy mystery. One day they’re determined to earn a living with their writing, the next they’re in a funk, ready to toss the laptop out the window.

If God has called you to write, He will equip you to write. Ponder those words. Chew on them. If you’ve been called to write, then God has already placed within you—or is in the process—everything you will need to fulfill all that He has planned for you. Wow! That means you can stay the course. Don’t toss that novel idea just yet. Don’t give up when several magazine editors turn you down. Don’t get distressed when you’re not chosen to teach at a conference. Don’t eat yourself up with worry when you can’t figure out what’s around the bend. Just stay the course. Keep on keepin’ on. Follow the example of Noah, who persevered—in spite of opposition—in the midst of the ultimate storm. If he could do it, you can too.

Set those GOALS, writers. Strategize. But remember that all of the plans in the world will fade in the light of God’s glory. By far the greatest plan you can make—as a freelancer or otherwise—is to spend time with Him. He will illuminate your path. And, oh, what a ride it will be!