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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
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!