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A Writer's Journey
by Albert Isaac
In 2005, I found myself unemployed and feeling lost. However, before the year was out I had become a novelist, columnist and freelance writer. I’ll never forget the satisfaction I felt penning the words “freelance writer” as my occupation. Sure beats “unemployed.”
For me, the combination of hard work, positive thinking and good fortune led to a new, highly rewarding career. It also helped having a supportive wife, who believed in me, and thus tolerated our months of diminished income.
I do not profess to be an expert in the field, but here are some things that helped me in my writer’s journey.
I took advantage of a free online offer and ordered cards for my ‘imaginary’ business, even though I was unemployed. I distributed these to the people I met. Business cards gave me some legitimacy, even though I was, as yet, unpublished. I gave one to an editor who later offered me freelance work – with pay.
Establish a Web Presence
I joined a Web site for writers, and started a Blog. Within a few weeks, my name was at the top of the search engines. While this in itself is not an indicator of success, it did have a purpose: If someone searched for me, they found an author.
I uploaded stories I’d written years before and began receiving encouragement from other writers and readers.
I started an upbeat Writer’s Newsletter to keep my friends and family informed of my accomplishments. This helped me keep my eye on the prize. Writing about every little victory kept me thinking positive. I expressed my gratitude to all who supported me.
I sought out and met other writers and editors. I made new friends. I listened and learned from my mistakes. We encouraged each other by focusing on the good things coming our way. Every victory was worth sharing.
A friend gave me some great advice: “Do the work and the money will come.” I started doing the work.
I read books on writing, to learn as much as I could about the business. This is an ongoing process, as there is still much I need to learn.
I subscribed to a variety of free newsletters and Ezines, such as “Writing for Dollars!” Not only do these resources keep us motivated, they also offer helpful writing tips and ways to market our writing.
I self-published my science fiction novel, understanding that my success came from having that finished novel in my hand – the rest was icing on the cake. After all, few of us start at the top. As it turns out, my book landed me freelance work and launched my writing career.
I wrote an article about being stuck on the Interstate in a four-hour traffic jam, and sent it to a local daily newspaper. The paper published my piece and the editors even grabbed my picture from my author’s Web page and ran it with the article. Talk about a confidence a boost! That same weekend a local magazine published a profile on me about the release of my new novel. My efforts were paying off.
It is up to us to get the word out. We can’t just sit back and expect the media to come pounding on our doors. I scheduled book signings at the local bookstores. I promoted myself by contacting the local newspapers to tell them about my new novel and upcoming book signings. The newspapers interviewed me. Suddenly I had some press.
I was invited to talk to book clubs about my novel, which not only allowed me to talk about my writing process with people who read my book, but also helped me become accustomed to public speaking. I even sold some books.
Never Give Up
Writers write. This is what we do, regardless of our level of success. Most of us strive to write every day.
Remember that just because you are not published doesn’t mean you are not a brilliant writer – and the reverse is also true. In a nutshell, material success doesn’t correlate with literary ability.
Believe in yourself, listen to constructive criticism, continue learning and don’t give up. Successful people don’t quit.
Networking brought me local freelance writing opportunities. Being dependable kept those opportunities coming my way.
I was fortunate to have met other writers and editors who believed in paying it forward, who encouraged me and gave me a chance. In turn, I like to think I helped their publications by providing well-written, accurate stories, on deadline. I made mistakes, but I learned. I picked up every assignment I could handle, and I provided the best photography I could produce. I began pitching story ideas to my editor.
Soon, I was writing for two magazines and a newspaper. The experience was invaluable, even for someone like me who prefers writing fiction.
My hard work paid off. Within two years I had landed a fulltime job as editor, heading up several award-winning publications. I had found the best job I’ve ever had (so far) and had truly reinvented myself. Friends I’ve now known for years see me only as a writer and photographer, my previous occupation but a footnote in the pages of my life.
Now start writing!
© Copyright 2010, Albert Isaac
Albert Isaac is the author of the science fiction/spiritual novel Endless, and is Editor-in-Chief for Senior Times Magazine and the Our Town Family of Magazines at Tower Publications, Inc. Check his Web site for more information: http://authorsden.com/AlbertLIsaac.