While a writer is, technically, anybody who identifies as such, many people are yearning to make a professional impact on the writing world. There are infinite ways to become a writer that don’t include churning out novels, and I can tell you how to do it.
I became a professional writer by sheer luck. I entered a couple of writing contests, the Jessamy Stursburg Poetry Contest and the International Junior Writer’s Short Story Contest. After placing first in one and third in the second, both my hopes and my ego were sufficiently inflated to give me a thirst for more challenges. This ultimately led to my application at a writing website for youth, where I learned about editing, deadlines, and the writing process in a sort of professional purgatory – not quite a job, but more than a hobby.
Since then, my writing portfolio has only grown. I have recently been accepted as a volunteer writing for another publication, and am vying for a spot as editor of my school’s newspaper. I have started my blog, where I compile everything I’ve learned into my own independent venture.
I don’t want to draw a line between a career and a hobby, because I hardly even know where I fall on that spectrum sometimes, but I do want to give some suggestions as to how you can make your love of writing into a professional enterprise. Not necessarily an enterprise that will rocket you to stardom, but a concrete responsibility that will exercise your writing skills.
Start A Blog
One of the simplest ways to feel rewarded for your hard work is to start a blog. At this point in time, the only people reading my blog are my friends and family, but I still feel accomplished every time I get a pageview. Creating a blog will also allow you to learn about how demanding writing is. You have to advertise yourself, post quality content, and be consistent. If you want to move on to bigger and better things, blogging is amazing practice. It can also be a career within itself – so many full-time bloggers now exist in our digital era.
Find Volunteer Positions
Many nonprofit organizations do not have much of a budget to work with when considering whether or not to run a blog on their website. This is where volunteers come in – though you are not getting paid, volunteer positions are often more lax about deadlines and will require less content from you. Above all, you are still being published. Having a handful of published posts under your belt could be amazingly helpful if you move on to apply for paid positions.
Go To Writing Events
This could mean a myriad of things, from participating in your local NaNoWriMo write-ins, to attending professional conferences in your city. These events are not only motivational, but they are a great opportunity to connect and network with other writers. A friend who shares your passion for writing can be your cheerleader (or proofreader) when you’re unsure about a sample article for the position you’re applying for. On top of that, if you surround yourself with writers, one of them is bound to offer you a publishing possibility sooner or later!
Give Yourself Deadlines
Even if you are content writing poems in a journal or sharing prose on your private blog, setting deadlines is the equivalent of dipping your toe in the professional pool. Deadlines are the bane of every writer’s existence, sure, but they also serve to make procrastination and self-doubt evaporate. On one hand, professional deadlines are unskippable (unless you don’t mind skipping your pay cheque as well), and deadlines also prevent you from nit-picking your work until you are sick of it and delete every word. Create a calendar for writing deadlines and stick to these deadlines, and you’re already training for a potential career in writing.
You can aspire to follow these suggestions all you want, but without commitment you will not stick to your aspirations for long. I don’t particularly want to be writing this article at nine p.m. on a Tuesday night, but I know that I have a responsibility to do it. This means avoiding procrastination, chiseling away some time in your schedule, and just writing. It can be pure gibberish, but it is still better than a blank word document or another forty minutes in your Friends binge session.
Be Proud Of Your Work
Most importantly, be proud of whatever you create. After all, isn’t this why writers write? Being able to express yourself through words is a great accomplishment, and writers may sometimes take this skill for granted. Everything you write is an artifact of your work, hard work that became a form of art.