28 Sep 2010

Writing On Writing

I like to think of myself as a writer. I'd like to be able to think of myself as a professional writer but it hasn't happened yet. I can live in hope that one day I'll be able to tell people who ask what I do for a living that I am a writer.

There are some who would argue that what I do here, and on my other blog, does not constitute work, but I can assure you that it is. Writing, even if you do it for a love of the subject and a passion for the language you work with, is work. It is sometimes very hard work, and it sometimes drags just like any other work, but it is the expenditure of energy to produce and end product. I would class that as work. Seeing an article in print or on the web that you have produced and lavished care over is the most rewarding experience that I can think of, especially when you can measure how many people are reading it.

I can hear the question now; 'Why haven't you set yourself up as a freelancer?'

The answer is this: I have no idea where to start. How does one go about becoming a freelance games and technology writer? Do you simply email a load of editors or wait for someone to find your blog and ask if you want to write something for them. What kind of rates should I be asking for? What if no-one wants to hire me?

Journalism students get all sorts of guidance and advice as to how the writing industry works and what to do to get freelance work. I've not had any of that. I have no idea about the inner mechanisms of  how freelancers are selected, how I should promote myself and who I should be speaking to. I've been writing with the hope of being noticed for a long time now and no-one has (apart form E-ON but that wasn't a paying gig and I did it for the love of EVE and my passion for writing.)

How should I present myself in my CV in order to have more of a chance of getting work? What should I send editors as examples of my past work? When your main activity in the field you want to work in has been what many would consider a 'hobby' how do you present it in such a way as to convince the reader that you consider it a career? These are the questions that plague me every time I consider applying for any kind of writing job.

Then there is The Doubt. The Doubt is important. its an element of what I feel makes me a good writer. As long as I doubt that what I'm doing is worthwhile and of  good enough quality to be considered professional, I try harder. The Doubt makes me strive to assuage it and aim for the highest levels of perfection I can. I relentlessly second guess my own abilities and this makes me look at what I write over and over again until I am completely happy that it is the best that am capable of.

The cliché is that you should write for yourself, if you like what you write and enjoy doing it then who cares what others think of it? This is a mistake for a professional writer. A writer fears one thing above all else, obscurity, and if no-one likes your work and doesn't read what you write because of that then there really is no point. A professional writer relies on the fact that others like their work and think that it is good. If they don't then the writer doesn't get paid, and more importantly, doesn't get any exposure and remains mired in obscurity.

Writing for yourself is okay, up to a point, but there comes a time when a writer must admit to themselves and the rest of the world that they do what they do for the praise and recognition of others. Principles may have to be compromised somewhat, and criticism taken in and acted upon. If you are trying to sell your work and ability as a writer then sticking to your text when being told that its not up to scratch is a bad idea. By all means keep the original, for yourself, but be willing to adapt what you send into the world based on the advice of others, they are really who you're writing for after all.

Rare are the writers who can honestly say that they write for themselves first and it just so happens that people like what they do.

Writing is a vocation, a calling, in my opinion. Its something that takes work to accomplish, and no matter if you love doing it or not, it can be a hard thing to get right. Writing may be something that you do for your own amusement and pleasure, but if you want to make a career at it you have to admit that ultimately you are doing it for others.

Want me to write for you? Contact Me.

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