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Tractor Part Two (How to Become a Career Writer)

In my previous blog post, I talked about how my career as a writer started in a less-than-stellar fashion. I noted that some young people I’ve spoken with over the past year are counting on Hope to carry them through to the Perfect Job that’s waiting for them out beyond the edge of their field of vision.

Hope, of course, is not a strategy. The strategy that worked for me, and which is still a key part of my modus operandi, is to embark upon a course of continuous learning. A degree doesn’t mean you are qualified to do anything. It means you have an invaluable platform from which to grow. From that perch on my tractor all those years ago, I talked my way into a part-time job with my local daily newspaper and I worked as a freelancer with a local weekly paper. The part-time job eventually evolved into a full-time job. The full-time job became a launching pad for a job with Canada’s national newswire service. That one led to a position as a media relations officer with the Ontario Ministry of Health, and from there I vaulted into a position as a copywriter with a successful marketing agency.

I’ve taken courses continuously throughout my career, something that is significantly easier now in the age of the Internet: free webinars and YouTube videos abound, and the only excuse for NOT learning something new every week is laziness. Nobody paid me to take courses to improve my knowledge, and money was often tight. But when the Internet arrived to revolutionize how everything is done in our world, I did what I was accustomed to doing, and I started taking courses that would allow me to evolve my writing services so I could stay current.

If you are a writer at the beginning of your career, and you want to live your dream of being a Writer, here are my suggestions for success:

  • understand from the outset that things might be bumpy
  • accept that there will always be ways you might improve your writing, and work hard at doing just that
  • always be in the process of learning something new
  • be the driver of your own career – don’t wait for opportunities to land on your doorstep: become entrepreneurial about it
  • be realistic about what you are worth – and, if you are always learning, know that you are always enhancing your value to anyone who might hire you; someday, this might allow you to keep a job while others around you are losing theirs
  • adopt a mindset of “being of service”
  • be a team player
  • let go of your judgements around what your career is supposed to look like

When I started out, there was no such thing as the Internet. It caused a massive disruption in the news and writing field and a lot of people lost their jobs as a result. Your writing career is going to be disrupted by something even more dramatic that has not even been invented yet. Be ready for it.

There are no guarantees in this life. My parents had their future ripped out from under them the day my mother had a stroke, and my life was similarly derailed by the event. It was traumatic for everybody and we all got through it, eventually, creating new paths we didn’t even know existed for us. I’ve ended up with a wonderful series of writing accomplishments to my credit and I have a long list of exciting writing-related projects prancing on my “To-Do” list. The future is an unwritten book. The opportunity is to be the fearless writer of it.

If you would like some assistance around planning your future as a writer, I invite you to contact me for a complementary chat about what that might look like.


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