Updated: Jan 26
Writers generally approach their craft with unbridled passion. Still, it can feel like something of a thankless task. Although you can get a world of creative and artistic satisfaction from writing, that doesn’t exactly pay the bills. Although there are paid writing opportunities out there, many of them offer shockingly low rates. Meanwhile, the well-paid writing opportunities can feel like an exclusive club that no one’s told you the password for.
However, there are more ways to make a career out of writing than you might think. The Writer’s Workout wants to make sure that anyone who wants to turn their passion into a full-time job has the means to do so. Here’s a look at how you can make writing more than a hobby:
Get Into Education
In many ways, writing is one of the remaining apprenticeship crafts. All of the best writers cite mentors who helped them develop their skills, discover their voice, and hone their work into the masterpieces it became. That’s why it’s so vital that we continue to get solid, passionate people interested in teaching the next generation of writers.
If you haven’t already considered it, now is a good time to look into earning a master’s degree in education or writing. Most master’s programs will include teaching opportunities as a part of the curriculum so you can see if it’s right for you. Once you have this sort of degree under your belt, you can confidently help build up other writers — and improve your own work in the process.
One of the biggest roadblocks to becoming a professional writer is the lack of published work. It feels a little bit circuitous—you can’t get published because you’re not already published. Well, the fact of the matter is, creative writers will almost always need to shoot for unpaid publications before they can land gigs with the big, paid journals or magazines. You need credits to get into the door—editors at those larger journals get a ton of submissions, and they need a hint of who you are in order to prioritize your work.
However, you shouldn’t make the mistake of thinking that an unpaid publication can’t do anything for you. Many of the smaller unpaid journals out there have a substantial online following. They’ll post your work on their social media pages, and from there it’s your job to interact with their followers and get your name out there. Publishers and agents tend to follow online journals and magazines, so it’s a great way to build a fruitful connection.
Fight For Your Big Break
Once you have connections and you’ve built relationships within the industry, it’s time to start fighting for that big break. Start by searching for an agent. A good place to start is to figure out the agents for books or short story collections you enjoy and are similar to your work.
From there, you’ll want to reach out with a query letter and a short sample of your writing to see if you can get representation. Yes, you can try to navigate the industry on your own, but it’s an agent’s job to know the right paths forward—you can think of them as your navigator in an unfamiliar world.
Once you have an agent, stick to your guns and fight for a good opportunity. Getting published for the first time won’t necessarily feel like a massive victory. After all, most novels aren’t big hits. However, it’s a big break precisely because it opens those closed doors we talked about earlier. If you keep up a steady publication career, you’ll be able to earn a decent living off of book sales and you’ll be doing what you love.
Making money off of writing isn’t easy, but it’s possible and so, so worth it! When you make a career out of your passion, you get to ignite that feeling every single day. We’re not going to echo the old “When you do what you love…” adage—writing is work. However, it can be the most satisfying work you can imagine! So if you’re looking to improve your writing abilities, get started with The Writer’s Workout challenges.
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About the Author: Emma Grace Brown lives her life by her rules, and it works! When she's not snuggling puppies, Emma promotes female empowerment through her website. Her mission is to help those who live with self-doubt to realize they don't have to mold themselves to conventionality.