I did not come easily to earning my money with writing. Nobody in my family ever worked as a freelancer. That was not any general case in a post-communist country, where people used to be “attached” to a factory, office, or whatever.
I was possessed by all bad stereotypes about poor writers, getting on the editors’ nerves day and night, and having nothing to eat. Moreover, I did not know how to start earning with writing, and that made me insecure.
After having changed a couple of occupations, I concluded that all my jobs had some minor similarities. And that was writing. First, writing publications at the university and then writing some “personal” stories for two marketing agencies. I realized that I do not want to write just from time to time.
There have been some other signs, intuitive feelings that confirmed my decision after writing the whole day. If you also get such signs from your body, you will be in the right job as a writer.
You are not ashamed of writing about personal emotions
For a writer, it is important to be able to open one’s heart and make public very personal thoughts and emotions. If you do not have to reformulate your actual thoughts to put them on paper or do not have to make a compromise with yourself, opening too much, then you are doing the right job.
I read a lot and believe that what differentiates a good writer from an average one is the ability not to put a false happy end to the story. Great writers let their stories end unhappily. This is life. There is no reason to shame that you’d experienced something sad and may not have recovered from it completely.
A great writer does not shame some forbidden feelings, like confessing in having envied or hated someone. That helps readers to identify themselves with the fictional characters.
You do not have to falsify
As a writer, I do not “invent” things. Most of the stuff I publish happened to me in reality or honestly occupied me. During some period of time, I had to do so-called link building, which is a search engine optimization measure and includes commenting in forums and social media. Even if a customer had a kind of weird product or something I rarely had to do with, it was always possible to come up with a story that took place in my life or that I knew from someone. It often felt like writing memoirs.
If you have read very good science fiction, you should have noticed that despite a crazy setting, it still feels … natural somehow. The characters would remind you of someone, you know. The story can be applied to a real setting and would still make sense. Most of the science fiction authors just tell their personal stories in unconventional ways.
You feel relieved after the piece is ready
When you look at your piece, you feel like getting lighter. Especially if you work on a kind of diary you want to publish as a book and disclosure some negative memories, writing them down brings relief. Like something that did not quite belong to you had left, and this fact makes you feel better.
You are on the right way if every next written piece in such a book helps you to evolve, to look at your own story with a fresh eye, and get to the next level of self-comprehension. Often you read a piece about some sad situation and think that it actually was not so bad to have been put through the situation. You get rid of your self-pity.
You have more flowing days than “bottle-necked” days
I do not want to say any banal things that we all lose inspiration from time to time, or have to cover a complex or boring topic just to keep earning money, but writing as your main occupation still has to feel like a flow to be the right one for you.
Of course, it is good to plan your day and how many hours you want to work, but if you do some countdown in your head all the time, or you need a break quite often, and this happens almost every day, then it may be a warning sign. When I think back to my SEO days, I remember that as soon as I had to manage a technical issue for a customer, I suddenly had to grab my coffee or tea every single hour, or read some news, etc. With writing, this routine was gone.
You start thinking less about others’ opinions
This does not mean that you’ll start to believe your writing is the best and free from errors and weak places. You accept that your results are not perfect and that it is all right so. Because you know that writing is the only thing you can do and that you won’t stop doing it, even if you get no prize or earn no millions with it.
You may still feel disappointed getting the number two thousand rejection, but you won’t pause or quit writing. Because it is the process of writing that you need. There are always things to do as a freelance writer.
I believe that a born writer also reads a lot. To put your thoughts into words, you need to consume a lot of other writings as well. If you read a lot, you notice that not only the perfect pieces get published. Sometimes, a temporary trend decides over the titles to be published. As a writer, you know that sooner or later your story will be demanded too.
A short afterword
As a writer, you work with words. Words are emotions. Learn to listen to your emotions to become a better writer.