What I’m listening to: Tupelo Honey by Van Morrison
It’s been a week — a good one so far. Still, it’s not been without its head-shaking moments.
If you’ve not noticed, there’s a bit of a movement swelling called #MeToo in which women are trying to raise awareness regarding sexual harassment/assault by tweeting or sharing their #MeToo pronouncement, with or without their stories attached.
Some of those stories make you cry, like one Princess Jones shared.
Some are just women saying “Me too” in order to show the magnitude of the problem. Some men are even tweeting #IHave and admitting to behavior they’re not proud of.
And some are finding it an opportunity to attack a woman who has admitted she was victimized in her life.
Yes, the particular case I’m talking about involves a friend who was taken to task by a young guy when she shared her #MeToo on Facebook. This guy saw that she was a fan of a football star who’d been accused of rape, so my friend was now being called a hypocrite.
Yep. She was victimized years ago, but because she didn’t behave the way this idiot thought she should, he’s victimizing her yet again, all the while saying he’s not attacking her.
It’s like holding her head under water while saying “I’m not trying to drown you.”
What does this have to do with freelance writing?
Believe it or not, there are correlations.
I’ve seen writers who ask for advice, then take away what they want. In one case, I had given what I thought was decent, detailed info on how I locate clients and actively market to them. The interpretation didn’t even resemble what I’d suggested. I have no idea where the response came from — I didn’t suggest anything like what the writer was saying I’d said. Instead, he said “That’s the way I’ll go then” and mentioned a direction I’d not even brought up.
We convince ourselves of a lot of stuff that isn’t true.
It’s like those writers who hear and repeat the same assessment of the profession — freelance writing is dead. It’s impossible. It’s vicious. You can’t make a decent living as a writer anymore.
And yet here I am — here you are — proving that statement false every damn day of the week.
Why? Because we didn’t listen to the current stream of BS. We planned for the kind of landscape we wanted to see, and we made it happen.
So here’s how to change your own landscape:
To job listings, that is. That means you have to leave behind your security blanket — no more content mills, no more “It’s all I can get” mentality, no more settling because it’s easier than busting your ass. If you apply for a gig, it’s like you’re admitting you’re still just an employee. You’re still letting someone make you apply for a job, dictate to you your payment, and control your destiny. The only difference is you now have to pay your own taxes and benefits. Stop it. You’re better than that.
Starting out is rough. I get it. I did it myself. But what I didn’t do was rest on the complaints. I didn’t use them as the reason I wasn’t going forward. I got off my ass and found a better way. Bitching does nothing but keep you locked in the same cycle of despair. So do this instead; every time you want to bitch, spend that time locating two more clients you’d like to work with and research their companies. You cannot change your direction if you don’t take a new road, right?
Stop building on quicksand.
You need a strong foundation when you build a house, right? So why not build that same kind of strength into your freelance writing career? Don’t build it on work you get from content mills, where the “clients” don’t give one damn about your talents. Don’t build it on the work you do for ungrateful, low-paying, dictatorial, or nasty clients who don’t value your skill or time. Don’t build it on the mentality that you have to compete in a bidding war or among thousands of other wanna-be writers just for the chance to earn one-twentieth of what you should be earning. Build it on client work that’s valuable to you. Build it on projects you get from clients who don’t try to manipulate and control you. Build it on your rate, not the rate someone says you’ll earn. Do you own a business or are you just an employee? Right there. Think like that business owner.
Stop looking for the easy way.
Honey, there is no easy way. There’s only you putting the effort into building something you’re proud of. No one is going to tell you exactly how to run your own business (nor should they). No one is going to do it for you (unless you pay them and even then, they’re going to probably do it their way, too). No one is going to lay out the template that you’ll apply easily. If you want to be a freelancer, you’re going to need to build your business on your own. There is no magic bullet. There’s head-down, ass-in-seat tenacity. That’s your formula.
Stop holding back.
Right now, count how many times this week you’ve started a sentence with “I’m going to…” Don’t say you’re “going to.” Just. F$cking. Do. Planning is great, but move on it. I know writers who five years later were still “going to” do that next thing they never did. Hell, I have friends who’ve planned things they never did. Get out of your own damn way, would you?
Writers, how did you change your landscape?
What one thing did you do that changed it all for you?