Monday, November 3, 2008

Is Writing your Passion, Hobby or Profession? (Hint: To be successful, it should be all three)

Learn how to what you write, when you like ~ and profit from it.

That's the best way I have found to make a make a success of my work ~ to not view it as work, but something enjoyable ~ and, I am told, it shows in my words.

One of the first rules writers learn is "write what you know". That's great, but not always practical, especially if you are a freelance journalist or copywriter. I think a more appropriate rule should be "write what you like".

I recall my early days on a daily newspaper on the Gold Coast, Australia's answer to Miami. I liked movies, music and books ~ who doesn't, you say ~ well, I did something about it. I became the paper's resident critic for all three. My Editor told me he couldn't afford a full-time critic, so he jumped at my offer of 'researching' and writing reviews in my spare time. Not only was it something I loved to do, it also gave me a new avenue for my work. And it wasn't long before I was writing reviews for a wide range of newspapers and magazines throughout the country ~ and getting paid for it.

So how about you? Think about your hobbies, consider what you enjoy doing. Can you write about it?

Yes! With more than six billion people on the planet, there's more than enough readers who enjoy what you enjoy and would love to read about it.

Do you like sports? What do you do on the weekends? Are you a member of any clubs? Where do you holiday ~ do you enjoy travelling?

Then write about it.

My wife and I love to travel and, when I get time, I put together an article on our adventures and sell it to newspapers and magazines. For me, it's the best of all worlds. I love to write. I write about things I enjoy doing. I discover new things about the subject in the process, and I appreciate it even more. And I get paid for it. But best of all ~ I can claim some of the expenses as a legitimate tax deduction. How about that!

Becoming an Enterprising Writer means thinking outside of the square.

It means going with your heart and enjoying what you do, but also using your head to maximize opportunities. It means taking a chance. Taking a chance on you, on your abilities, stretching yourself.

Why not try the following exercise:

1. Make a list of things that interest you.

As we've discussed earlier, your hobbies, sports, whatever you enjoy doing.

2. Think about ways you can write about them.

This could be as grandiose as a how-to book or novel or maybe a magazine article or regular column. You could even develop an entire Web site or regular e-zine dedicated to your interest.

3. Research the market.

If you're writing a book, be it non-fiction or fiction, read the 'competition', and gain an insight into what titles are popular and why. If you're writing a magazine article or a regular column, read what others have written on the subject. Check out relevant publications and understand their guidelines. If you're going to launch a Web site or e-zine, take the same approach. See what other people are doing, finding a niche to fill.

You can research your idea further by posting queries to relevant online forums, talking to people in the industry and many other ways.

4. Believe in yourself and your work.

Now it's time to get to work. Sometimes writers get stuck on point three and spend the bulk of their time researching a subject to death, only to find there's no room for what they want to say. That's not the case. There's always room, you've just got to find out where and you've just got to find the right way of expressing yourself.

Keep in mind that, as was said years ago, "there's nothing new under the sun", and that applies to writing as well. Every subject we write about has been said countless times before. The only difference is that this time YOU are writing about it. You can make a difference by injecting your personality, your viewpoint, your spin on a subject.

That's something I found with the reviews and travel stories I wrote. Someone had always been there before me, and many after me. My opinion was just as valid as the next person's ~ and the same applies to you.

So, go ahead, write what you know, but make sure you write what you like as well. You'll be happier, healthier and almost always, wealthier for it.

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