Freelance writing remains a mystery for many. What do we do all day and what is the secret? I found the best answer yet from Christopher Johnston, a fellow freelance writer and panelist at this year's Imagination Writers' Workshop and Conference at CSU.
Chris's answer was: "The secret of freelance writing is that there is no secret.
We get up every morning and go to our desks and research story ideas and pitch them to editors and write and revise articles. Be forewarned, the question, "What are you working on?" could elicit a rather lengthy response.
Chris' larger point to the audience of primarily creative writers was that successfully managing a solo writing career in which you get paid means viewing yourself as a business in which you are the sales and marketing department, accounting, editorial and janitor all rolled into one person.
It's not easy, but for the self-starter, multitasker personality, it can be particularly rewarding. Freelancing is the business of ideas and a writer's capacity to execute those ideas in the form of a story. It requires just as much professionalism as any other business--and perhaps more because there are many others to whom editors can turn.
Someday I'd like to see a panel of freelancers talking about their biggest mistakes and how they overcame them. I've had "less than" moments that I struggle to explain and that still wake me at night, filling me with self-doubt. But as a good friend once told me: There's a point when self-doubt becomes paralyzing and is no longer useful to the writer. That's when it's time to move on and get back to work.
Just because I never know where a Google search will take me, I thought I'd share this link to William Faulkner's Nobel Prize speech in December 1950. Here's a brief excerpt to tantalize, your motivational speech of the week:
I believe that man will not merely endure: he will prevail. He is immortal, not because he alone among creatures has an inexhaustible voice, but because he has a soul, a spirit capable of compassion and sacrifice and endurance. The poet’s, the writer’s, duty is to write about these things.
The poet’s voice need not merely be the record of man, it can be one of the props, the pillars to help him endure and prevail.