A year into my writing career and things weren’t steady. That’s an understatement. I’d have months marked by more work than I could handle (midnight cups of coffee, anyone?), followed by months of nail-biting, wondering how I’ll pay rent, and trying to convince myself that living under a bridge couldn’t be THAT bad.
Thankfully, that never happened. Not the financial roller coaster (that was constant), but the bridge residing.
One day, I called a friend who’d been a writer for most of her working life (if you don’t have a writing buddy, by the way, get one. ASAP). I started crying (yes, I’d reached the ugly-snot-nosed-barely-intelligible-phase). She stopped me and asked a simple question. So simple it was profound. I’m not trying to sound philosophical here, just real.
She asked me:
‘How many rejection letters/emails have you received in the past two months?’
You see, if I was putting myself out there (pitching and proposing), it would be evident. And the rejection letters would serve as proof.
She was right. I’d fallen in love with the fairy tales of being an online writer who attracts her ideal clients through branding and well-thought-out avatars alone. The person who doesn’t have to go out to get clients and writing ops because they land at her feet, begging her to take their money. I believed I could be that girl. Do you dream of that, too? I’m not here to dragon-slay your dreams.
I’m about to share a few hard truths.
It will happen. There will come a time when you’ll get most of your work from online and offline referrals and repeat clients. But it takes time to build to that stage.
Don’t fool yourself to think it happens quickly. You don’t just throw up a blog and a few social media profiles and the clients (with the money) come rushing in. If you’ve been drunk on that Koolaid (and probably broke), I’ll be gentle.
That’s not how this writing thing works.
If you’re not earning enough as a writer, I challenge you to run toward rejection. I take that back. Challenge yourself to run toward rejection.
I don’t mean you should write poorly. I mean you should put yourself in a position (lots of positions) to be rejected. Research. Pitch. Query. Submit. Contact. Connect. Prospect. Call. Network… your ass off.
Over and over again.
Rejection stings. It’s painful. Nobody likes it. But every (yes, every) writer endures rejection. There’s no way around it. If you want to avoid rejection, don’t pitch, propose, or publish anything. I’m guessing that’s not what you want.
Writing is not enough.
If you’re not doing tons of activity that can possibly yield tons of rejection, you’re not hungry for this.
How many rejections are you receiving? How much are you doing to get work? Not reworking the branding on your website, checking in on Facebook, fixing your profile picture on Twitter. Nope. None of those activities will bring you a steady stream of clients.
There, I said it.
You have to put yourself in rejectable situations. Situations where there’s a chance for someone to say no.
So, how do you do this?
Let’s make a plan.
Step 1: Pick your sh*t sandwich (that thing that makes you feel so uncomfortable but can lead to you getting paid).
Step 2: Get out your calendar (yes, that’s a step. Some of you have been flying blindly, not scheduling your marketing and your work. Enough!)
Step 3: Block off the hours you need to complete the writing projects you already have on your plate.
Step 4: Out of the remaining working hours, can you dedicate at least 70% of them to eating that sh*t sandwich? That’s the rejectable work. The work you must do.
Take it to the next level: Can you set a rejection-related goal that’s uncomfortably high? “I’m going to receive 50 rejection letters over the next two months”. Knowing that for that to happen, you’d have pitch hundreds of letters. Hundreds. Also knowing that despite the 50 rejections, you’ll get a large number of YESES (that looks funny, I know).
Still there? I’m wondering why. I’ve kept this short for a reason. You’ve got sandwich eating to do.
Need help on who/what/where to pitch and prospect and look for clients and markets? Check out my Massive List of Resources for Struggling Writers.
Don’t walk. Run!
(or write, rather)