Do you write on a PC or Mac? Maybe you prefer a legal pad and pen, or even a typewriter. All great options, but which is the correct way to write?
That question looks a little silly when I write it, but I’ve come to realize I have some pretty silly ideas in general when it comes to writing. Without a doubt, the silliest idea I’ve believed is that there’s a right way to succeed.
When I decided that I wanted to take writing and editing from a hobby to a career, I did what, I believe, most people do – I asked the experts and followed their lead. I’ve read dozens of books, traveled to wonderful conferences, and joined a handful of professional groups, all because someone else did it and it helped them succeed.
Recently I attended a highly-recommended conference for freelance writers. I prepared everything as I was told. I met editors looking for freelance writers. I networked, handed out samples, followed up when I got home. I couldn’t wait for a chance to expand my writing base.
But nothing happened.
I received compliments on my writing and interest in my editing services, but of the half-dozen people I communicated with no one wanted to hire me. I had a portfolio of over 300 published articles, hours of volunteer time, plus all of the training from my books, conferences, and groups. I went to this conference because this was “the conference” at which many writers I know made the connections they needed to start full time freelance careers.
So what happened? I did everything right.
I did everything right that worked for those writers and their careers, but I didn’t do what was right for me. I didn’t go to the conference because I’d discovered it or because I felt like it was the right place for me – I went because someone else told me to go. I followed someone else’s formula. I wasn’t looking at what I want from my career, I was simply trying to copy someone else’s success and it didn’t work.
The truth is that there isn’t a right way.
I still take advice from others, and I won’t ever stop learning about my craft, but I am the only person who knows what I want out of my career, and I’m the only person who can make that happen. Instead of trying to follow someone else’s path, I’m taking their traveling advice and applying it to my own journey. It’s taking longer than some people told me it would, but I’m still moving forward.