“You don’t have enough experience.”
Five words that make every job seeker want to pull his or her hair out. I’ve been running around that mountain for years – I had all of the training and knowledge I needed to edit a novel, but I couldn’t pay people to hire me. At one point I offered $0.01/word developmental edits to the Michigan chapter of a writers group. I had exactly zero takers. I donated free chapter edits to different event giveaways. Winners were selected, but no one ever contacted me. I literally couldn’t give away my services.
That first editing job became my Elanor. A unicorn. Bigfoot.
I’d love to say that a chance encounter with a stranger at the local McDonald’s landed me a contract as editing director for Thomas Nelson, but that only happens on TV (and, oddly enough, in books, where there authors should know better). The truth is that it took lots of hard work and waiting. Lots and lots of waiting.
Waiting does not mean playing Candy Crush Saga. While I waited, I wrote. I took classes. I bid on projects. I joined a critique group to get in some practice. Okay, I played a few games of Candy Crush Saga, but the majority of my time was spent honing my craft. I also pursued clients. I event took on some non-traditional editing gigs editing on-line real estate listings. It wasn’t what I’d planned on doing, and it wasn’t enough work to pay the bills, but it kept me busy. It also kept me working, which forced me to keep learning.
It took me years before someone finally hired me to edit a novel manuscript. Even though I’d been preparing for years, it intimidated me. I waited two days before opening the file because I didn’t know if I could actually do it, but guess what happened? All of that active waiting had prepared me for this moment. What I had expected to take three weeks took ten days to finish.
Maybe you’ll be lucky and score an editing or writing gigs your first time out, but chances are you’ll have an experience similar to mine. Don’t let the time lapse scare you, and don’t let trick you either. Your work never stops, even when you aren’t technically working. There’s always something you can do to educate yourself, promote yourself, or inspire yourself. Don’t let Candy Crush Saga get the best of you.
You can catch Elanor.