How many times were you asked what you wanted “to be when you grow up?”
And how many times did you think, writer, but never said it.
(Probably because you already learned your lesson when you were met with eye-rolls or tsking the last time you answered honestly.)
But, the truth is, the answer to that question wasn’t wrong, even though you learned to believe that it was.
And here’s the thing…the word you’re searching for today isn’t writer or author.
In fact, both of those terms are dirty words—even though I use them to describe myself every day.
You should be using sneaky terms like copywriter or content marketer. And only when you can sing “hey look ma I made it” without lying, you can call yourself a writer. (I’m speaking from a socially acceptable standpoint.)
So, if you do want to write, and you’re actually good at it, there’s hope, and no it’s not too late for you. In fact, I did it in less than 6 months.
What I’m about to share is going to get you pretty excited if you’ve been dreaming of writing for a living. So read on to get the deets.
Forget About The Romance of Writing
The words writer and author, carry a lot of weight. They’re romantic, nostalgic terms. And if you hear someone say, I’m a writer. Let me guess, you picture a cuppa joe, fuzzy socks, and maybe even a typewriter. Oh, and most of the time these visualizations also include someone typing away with excellent posture…in bed.
Staaaahp 👏🏻 right 👏🏻 now 👏🏻!
That’s not what it’s like being a writer. Nor is it sitting by the lake in the morning sun with a pen and paper—well, not every day.
P.s. Your posture will suffer and back pain will ensue if you try to sit under your favorite tree writing killer content. Oh, and your laptop screen isn’t bright enough.
You know what writing also isn’t?
It isn’t cranking out killer novels a few times a year. Even the most popular authors are hiring ghostwriters to do their job for them.
Seriously, don’t set those kinds of expectations for yourself, because they aren’t realistic and you’ll give up.
Oh, and guess what?
You don’t have to have an agent or pitch your novels to publishers.
Unless that’s the only writing you want to do — in which case you may actually end up a product of the starving artist horror story you were told when you decided to become an English major or answered that age-old “when you grow up” question.
Writing today is different than what it was back in the days of Hemingway and Thoreau. It’s not as romanitc….or not in the same way, at least.
But the good news is, it’s a very viable and lucrative lifestyle. All you have to do is start with a mindset shift from those perfect (false) images and let go of your attachment to a certain type of content (books or poetry, for example).
But hey, if you hit the lottery and are amazing at what you do, you can succeed with those kinds of niches, but remember, many writers didn’t even gain popularity until after they died….so there’s that.
What I’m talking about right now, is taking your passion for writing, and molding into the modern world, and making a killing doing it.
Because you can.
Wait…What? Writing Can Be a Lucrative Career?
Case study of…well, me:
When I graduated from college in 2005 with an English Degree, I walked off campus bright-eyed and ready to take on the writing world.
All I saw were cornfields and cows…I’m from Wisconsin by the way. And there were no publishing houses, agencies, or newspapers to pitch to. At least none that would take a recent college grad seriously.
Online job searching wasn’t really a thing because companies were just starting to recruit online.
In my rural area, there weren’t any jobs for a budding writer.
So I gave it up, because…bills.
And went back to school to become a CNA.
Note: everyone should do this at least once in their life. It’s a fantastic reality check about what a tough job really is.
Then I got my masters in counseling.
I worked in higher ed as an admissions counselor selling education for a mint. I thought it was the right thing to do…the epitome of success in my small town. But it broke me.
So, I quit cold turkey and started freelance writing…and I was dead broke. I started out making $4 a pop for some hard work.
Trying to make ends meet, I signed up to teach ESL online for VIPKid and struggled to get up at 3 am to get enough classes in to pay the bills.
Don’t get me wrong, those kids were adorable!
Things Finally Clicked
It was about three years before I figured out the secret to being a modern-day Hemingway.
You see, being a writer wasn’t nearly as romantic as I‘d envisioned…but that wasn’t really what was truly important to me anyway.
I wanted to write, and I didn’t care if I was wearing fuzzy socks or living in a mansion. I just wanted to share my talent and help others. (and pay bills)
Which I do…and then some.
And I wear fuzzy socks while I do it.
But the point is, it all came down to a mindset shift, and reevaluating what writing means today. And it also meant that I had to be realistic about what was comfortable financially, and where my writing talents would come in handy.
Rewrite The Story You Were Told
Saying you want to be a writer, or you are a writer, may make you feel like washing your mouth out with soap. To this day when someone asks what I do, I find myself struggling to call myself a writer.
I’m afraid they will think I’m ridiculous, lazy, or even egotistical.
But then I tell myself: if these people knew what my bank account looks like, and the flexibility I have, they wouldn’t think, “aww, that’s cute.”
So I try to consider what society values as a respectable career, and weigh that against the amount of happiness my writing career brings me and my family on a daily basis. Then, I rewrite the false story about what it means to be a writer.
Now that I’ve been in the industry, full-time, for quite awhile the story has rewritten itself. I now have a clear picture of what it means to be a modern writer. And I know I’m in demand, as most writers who’ve made this realization are.
We’ve cracked the code, and we are writers. Not just for the money, but also for the fulfillment of what our hearts desire.
If you just can’t let it go, and want to take a peek behind the curtain of the modern-day writer, it’s time for you to finally pursue the path.
Even if you only walk down the road a ways, at least you are giving yourself some clarity of what it means to become a writer.
You may never look back!