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Pen IN Hand
No one can really answer that but you, but I can give a few suggestions to help things along. Most people automatically associate writing with fiction and the wildly known names in that field like Stephen King, J.K. Rowling, etc.
Writing, though, is a much larger arena. And hereís where my philosophy comes in. Let your writing career flow like water over the rocks. You may have one particular area of love or expertise or both, but donít let that prevent you from exploring others Ė nor from getting paid in the process.
In my career Iíve written and published novels, optioned screenplays, won an award for a short story, and I am currently writing this column for IN. Iíve also written, unsung behind the scenes, resumes, grant proposals, business literature, newsletters, copy, rewrote into a readable form material translated from a foreign language, and created fundraising materials for a non-profit (check out How I Spent My SummerÖ). When youíre a writer these things come along. Someone knows you write and asks if you can do whatever it is they need done. Unless itís something you hate or is so wildly out of your confidence area that you feel youíd really blow it, the answer is "YES!"
All writing is good exercise for you. All income from said writing is also good for you! Figure out how to quote a cost. Determine your hourly rate and multiply it times the amount of time you believe it would take to complete the project. You may get stung a couple of times in the beginning if, in your eagerness to grab a project you estimate too low, but that, too, is a lesson learned. And remember, it isnít always the lowest bid that gets a job, itís value: what you can offer for the amount you charge. And thatís when you have an employer.
Perhaps you have a terrific idea for a nonfiction book. Write those sample chapters, get your proposal together and send it out to publishers. Work in areas other than that of your love will increase your writing abilities, and may even result in breaks in the area of your first interest. It will no doubt also result in published clips for your file.
I donít necessarily recommend the shotgun approach Iíve taken on many occasions with my career though it certainly has worked for me. With a little thinking and tinkering you can nail down two or three areas of writing where you feel you have strong abilities. Then you need only to remain open to opportunities in those areas and eagerly pursue them.
And how will this benefit my writing love, you ask. Youíll be writing, youíll be making money, so you donít have to do the starving artist thing, and doors will be opening where youíll least expect them. And, if your love is in another area, youíll actually find in the long run that you have more time to pursue that as well. If you can create income from your writing, you may be able to get rid of that pesky day job or at least cut to part time freeing you to dedicate more time to your writing.
Give it a try. You may surprise yourself.
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