You don't have to write books to have a successful writing career!
Take heart and leap out of the publishing box. What do I mean? When I meet someone and tell them I’m a professional writer – and have been since 1978 – they immediately want to know what I write. Some are genuinely interested in finding out more about me. Some want to know if I’m famous. Others ask if they’ve ever read anything I’ve written. (I’ve never been sure how to answer that last question since I don’t have a crystal ball, but I’ve learned to answer with my own question, “Well, what do you read?”)
At the heart of their questions, however, there lurk several assumptions:
1. That if I’m a writer, I must be writing books; and
2. If I’m any good, they would have heard of me.
Unfortunately, these assumptions are fallacies and, worse yet, these assumptions smother beginning writers with misinformation and discouragement.
I want to stand up and shout, “It’s not true! Don’t let them get you down!”
I’ve had a passion to write since I was a little girl. I got my first paid writing assignment before I graduated from college, which kick-started my career in a valuable way.
What do I write? Well, in 39 years I’ve written so much, it might almost be easier to tell you what I have not written. But, I’ll take a stab at clarifying that you don’t have to write books to have a successful writing career by listing some of the things I’ve done.
I have been paid to write:
- Sunday school material (lessons and short stories)
- Press releases
- Marketing material (inbound marketing -- both web and direct mail)
- Newsletter content (this involves short bios, feature articles, and “how to” pieces) in every area you can imagine – tax, financial, legal, real estate, banking, and healt care.
- Trade show collateral
- Product literature
- Feature articles
I have been paid to publish (in print):
- Annual Reports
- Lobby brochures
- Conference programs
I have been paid to edit and assist in print production of:
- Course material
I have been paid to develop and write (electronic):
- Blogs for other people
- Electronic newsletters
- Web content
I’ve been paid to consult on:
- Corporate communication plans
- Content development for books
- Social media platforms
I’ve written “my own stuff” and it has been traditionally published:
- Short stories
- Feature articles
That’s just a short list. Dear writers, I am not bragging when I list these things. I am writing to encourage you to think outside the publishing box that everyone else wants to put you in. Please know that there are many other options available to you besides just publishing a book.
While the general public may not consider me a “success” (I haven’t written huge bestsellers, and they don’t know my name), I consider myself a success because:
- I’ve consistently written and gotten paid for it for 39 years. Wouldn’t you agree that doing what you love and getting paid for it is the best vocation? It also means my clients like me and like my writing because they ask me to write more – and more, and more. That means I must be good. What’s not successful about that?
- My clients pay me. Every last one of them has paid me, I’ve never been stiffed. What’s not successful about that?
- It has given me the flexibility to have babies, work part-time or full-time, and mostly work from home. What’s not successful about that?
You need to discern if you are called to write (frequently with no byline) or if you are called to just write your stuff, with your name attached.
If you always want to have your name attached, then you need to discern why you are in this game. If you always want creative credit and if you only dream of writing books, then you are limiting yourself, and you may have a hard, discouraging road ahead of you.
But if you feel called to be a writer, then there are endless possibilities open for you.
Writer friends, open your minds and leap out of the “publishing box created by other people” into a writing career.
#defylabels #agoodread #writerly
©Sharon Cairns Mann