You Are Not Alone – The Struggles of Being a Freelance Writer
Guest post by Scott Mullins
Whenever I mention to people that I’m a writer, and after I shatter their ideas that I sit around in my underwear with a glass of scotch, chain-smoking and writing about mythical worlds, they expect that as I writer I should know every word in the universe. That everything I write should come out as perfect poetry with no mistakes.
As most writers will tell you. The majority of writing is spent fighting to get the words right. Editing. Only to scrap most of it, to start again. That behind the great words, that people expect, is a hell of a lot of a hard work.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve written a text in a hurry and put “your” instead of “you’re” only to have someone send a text back saying,
“It’s you’re! Aren’t you a writer? You should know better.”
And I should, but writers are human!
We’re not perfect.
Writers will go over and edit, reread and edit, but every now and then things will slip through. I worked as an editor, and while I can find the tiniest mistake is someone else’s writing I struggle with my own.
The problem is that writing is done alone. Often in a hidden corner of your house. Often to a deadline. You jot down an outline. Research. Then fight, fight like hell to get your ideas down in some coherent form that makes you seem as though you know what you’re talking about. All the while fighting that inner voice that tells you, “this is shit!”
Every now and then you need someone to talk through your ideas with, to look over your work and let you know what is great about it, what is horrible, what points they think you have missed and what you should expand to truly tell a great story.
And that’s what writers do. We tell stories. Whether it’s a marketing piece for a bank, a white paper on architectural specifications, a blog post or that long lost best seller you’re trying to get out. It’s our job to get information or a point across without boring the hell out of the reader.
We are focused on getting that story out and sometimes we can lose focus. The story can’t be told if it’s full of mistakes that reach out and grab the reader by the shoulders, shaking them and say, “something here is not quite right.”
That’s why at some stage you need to hire an editor or proofreader. Get your partner to read over it. Look at it from a different perspective. The simple input from someone else can allow you to see a piece of writing in a whole new light.
Now, I’m not saying that I hire an editor for every piece of writing I do. For smaller work I reach out to people I know to read over it. If I have a large body of work, with lots of different ideas that need to be conveyed, there is a greater chance of mistakes slipping in. That the ideas can become jumbled. I need someone from the outside to set me straight and tell me what I’ve done wrong and how I can improve. I factor this into the budget of these jobs when I quote a price. I spend that money on an editor who can help me to fully realise the work.
If you’re sitting there saying, “That’s just a waste of money. Why not quote extra and spend more time carefully reading through the work?”
Because I know I need help. My time is better spent moving on to the next piece of work.
An editor makes my work look good. The client doesn’t know I’ve used one, but they’ve got their job done. It achieves exactly what they needed it to, and more than often they become a return client.
What I’m trying to say is that as a writer you don’t have to do it alone. Don’t be afraid to reach out to someone who can help you improve your stories.
If you’re a writer and you’re looking to connect with like-minded people, you just need to find the time. Get out there and do it. Jump onto LinkedIn groups such as – Writers Hangout or Aspiring Writers. Join a local writing group. Get on Twitter and meet other writers on social media – that’s how I met Katie. The hashtag #AmWriting is a great place to start.
If you’re looking for free advice and critiques of your fiction, You-Write-On is a great site where you can upload your opening chapters and short stories. Fellow writers will give you feedback and help you to form a more realised story.
Scott Mullins is a freelance writer and digital content manager. When he’s not finding ways to distract himself from writing his novel he writes killer copy for companies all over the world. In his spare time, Scott runs thisiswriting.com, a website about writing, books, the publishing process and the life of a writer in general. Also, be sure to check out book-swag.com, a book promo site for readers and authors.