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.
Supplementing Your Fiction Habit
Over, Not Under
Welcome to February! Let’s continue a teaching I started last month on GOALS. In my last article we covered the letter G (Go for the Gusto). This month we’ll dive into the letter O (Over, Not Under).
Let me start by talking about the hurdles we all face as writers. Some are financial, others emotional. Some are time related, others are related to talent, or the lack thereof. Whenever we come up against hurdles, we need to have the right perspective to make it over them.
A little perspective, like a little humor, goes a long way.
An incorrect perspective will trip us up. A correct one will give us the necessary spring in our steps to make the leap. Some hurdles intimidate us. Others inspire us to try harder.
PERSPECTIVE (defined): the state of one’s ideas, the facts known to one, etc., in having a meaningful interrelationship: You have to live here a few years to see local conditions in perspective (http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/perspective).
When a runner sets off on his course, he doesn’t ignore the hurdles in the path. He doesn’t close his eyes and pretend they’re not there. Instead, he strategizes so that he knows exactly when to make the jump. Too soon and he’ll fall flat. Too late and he’ll pull the hurdle down as he leaps over it. Perfect timing is key to success.
The same is true for those of us who seek to earn money with our writing. Certainly, hurdles will come. But they should serve to inspire us. And, hey, every writer is looking for inspiration, right?
What hurdles should you expect if you’re entering the world of the freelancer? Let’s break down the word HURDLE to find out.
The first hurdle you’ll have to jump is “time.” If you’re balancing your writing against a full-time job, you’ll need to figure out a daily schedule that truly works for you. Don’t just say, “Hey, I’ll try to write when I can.” Plan a specific time of day, a certain number of hours per week. Choose your time based on your body clock if possible. If you’re a morning person, write in the morning. If you’re a night owl, grab that laptop after everyone else in the house goes to bed.
The second to jump is the “How do I stand out in the crowd?” hurdle. Celebrate your God-given uniqueness. No one else is like you. Don’t strive to write like everyone around you.
Approach each assignment with your own unique spin. This is what editors are looking for, after all. They’re not interested in cookie-cutter pieces.
The third hurdle you’ll have to jump is “relevance,” the “How can I keep it real so that readers will truly connect with me?” challenge so many of us face when we try to make the switch from novels to articles, devotions, or other nonfiction pieces. As fiction writers we are accustomed to living in a fictional world, one with made-up characters and fictional circumstances. Nonfiction writing pulls from the “real,” not the imaginary. So keep it real. Dare to go deep. Make sure you’re meeting the “felt needs” of your readers, otherwise they’ll read your piece, shrug, and say, “Who cares?”
The fourth hurdle freelancers have to face is “desperation.” This is the “If I can’t start earning money today, I might as well forget it!” hurdle. Building a career as a freelancer takes time, energy, talent, and perseverance. You’ll never persevere if you let your momentary panic or desperation drive you to your knees. Take a deep breath. Create a plan and stick with it. Don’t get sidetracked by fear. Jump the desperation hurdle and keep running.
This might seem like an odd hurdle. Some of us are married to our fiction. We see it as so much a part of us that we’re afraid to step away and use our God-given gifts on anything but The Great American Novel. We need to sail over that hurdle if we want to earn money with our words. Fiction writing is important, of course, but no more so than nonfiction writing. Think of the lives you can affect through magazine articles, devotions, blogs, and other nonfiction pieces. Even if you’ve convinced yourself that novel writing is the only way to go, please reconsider. Give up your loyalties to the all-encompassing novel and try your hand at something new. You might be surprised to learn that you enjoy writing nonfiction pieces.
The sixth hurdle we need to jump if we want to be successful freelancers is the “energy” hurdle. Energy can work for us or against us. Sometimes we’re overly zealous . . . so much so that we lose focus. Sometimes we’re worn out and have no energy at all. When we set out to make money freelancing, we need to have “just enough” energy. (Think of Goldilocks here, folks. You don’t want too much or too little.) Keeping things in balance is key.
If you’re struggling with the hurdles in your path, begin to think like a runner. Those hurdles aren’t there to trip you up. They’re there to make you stronger and to add bounce to your step. They will perfect your timing and give you opportunity to leap higher. Memorize the phrase Over, Not Under! and you can spring over those hurdles with ease.
So, what are you waiting for, freelancers? Jump!
Keep on going and the chances are you will stumble on something,
perhaps when you are least expecting it.
I have never heard of anyone stumbling on something sitting down.
Charles F. Kettering (1876–1958), Engineer and Inventor