A couple of weeks ago, I posted the above picture on Instagram and said this:
A year ago, the HBH (Hot Black Husband) and I sat down to write our “Better Together” goals for 2016. #10 was to have 12 articles published for pay, which felt like such a huge, lofty goal. I’d been doing the writer thing for awhile but hadn’t made a penny. I knew I couldn’t do this without his support, emotionally, financially, physically. But as of today, I had 17 – 17!! – (paid) published articles in 2017. It doesn’t mean that I’m rich, nor does it mean that I’ve finally “made it” as a writer. But when I got this book in the mail, a book that holds MY words in one of its chapters, the first of three (!!!) anthologies I’ll have a chapter in in the new year, I jumped up and down. I giggled with joy. I breathed in the pages of Dating During the Apocalypse and I called it my own. So people, dream big dreams, make lofty goals, and then, do something about it. Put pen to paper – or whatever it is for you – and do the hard work. It’s worth it!
Honestly, I debated whether or not to post the picture. In a sense, it felt gimmicky – like I was trying to sell people something, and that wasn’t at all what I wanted to communicate. But y’all saw through my fears and instead offered heaps of encouragement: to keep going, to thank me for sharing our Better Together goals, to find the strength to make your dreams happen.
And that fired me up in the best kind of way, to say the least.
It encouraged me to keep putting myself out there, when it comes to writing in particular, and it told me that I might have some wisdom for others who are seeking to do the same.
So, if you dream of getting paid to write, I’ve got 7 ideas for you today, and another seven ideas for you tomorrow: :
- Make a list of places where you’d love to see your name in print. When 2016 started, I wrote down all sorts of print and online publications I’d love to write for someday, places that felt unattainable and wholly out of reach: Christianity Today, Scary Mommy, Books & Culture, For Her and Real Simple. So, what publication is it for you? Who do you resonate with personally? For me, physically writing down a list of publications on a small white board was enough to motivate me toward action – maybe because the idea didn’t just live in my head anymore.
2. Build relationships with editors. Y’all, to me Twitter exists for one reason and one reason alone: to help you build relationships with complete strangers. Start following editors whose publications you dream of writing for, and then, interact with them. Reply to their tweets. Get to know them. Build a relationship with them so that when you land in their inbox someday, they’ll know who you are.
3. Speak truth to other writerly types, and let them speak truth to you: A year or so ago, I had a conversation with an author who’d already published one book and was finishing her second book. She felt so wholly above me, but at one point in our very normalized conversation, she suggested I query a certain publication: I think your story would be great for them, she said to me. One query, three revisions and two months later, I saw my name in print.
4. Learn how to query. To query means to send a pitch or an idea to an editor at a publication. But, do your homework. Every publication is different; if they tell you they want a 200-word pitch, write a 200-word pitch. If they say you’re to message editors directly, you should message editors directly. If you’re to submit a form, submit a form. Unless you have a personal relationship with an editor, follow the directions! When you do write, brevity is key. Clarification is essential. A quick list of credentials is helpful. So, start practicing.
5. Find a tribe of writers who will encourage you to pursue your dreams: Almost three years ago I joined a group of Christian women writers called the Redbud Writers Guild. I didn’t have any sort of writing “cred” behind my name, but I believed that it might happen someday. Eventually, a handful of us within the larger group began holding each other accountable to querying on a monthly basis – and it made all the difference. Find other writers! Find people who will encourage you to pursue your dreams!
6. Make it a goal to send one query every week or month. Do your homework. Read content on a publication’s website so you fully know and understand the audience you desire to write for – then, put pull up your pants, do the hard work and press SEND. Sometimes, pressing “send” is the hardest part of all, but you did it. You put your brilliant ideas out there into cyberspace, without knowing whether they’ll be accepted or rejected, and at least at the beginning, that might just be the hardest part of all.
7. Believe in abundance, not scarcity. There is room enough for you at the table. There is room enough for me at the table. If “X” writer steals your Super Brilliant Absolutely Fabulous Idea, well, then come up with another idea! Pat her on the back and say, “Good job, friend – you did it!” Or, start writing through the originally stolen idea, and see how yours differs. Take a different angle, move on and believe that there’s room for both of your brilliant selves.
That’s it for now, but have no fear – seven more will tomorrow be here! Also, want to win a copy of Dating During the Apocalypse, leave a comment below saying, “Pick me!” .
So, what would you add to the list? How did YOU begin getting paid to write? And how best do you need to be supported in your writing journey? Also, if you’d like to win a copy of Dating During the Apocalypse, leave a comment saying, “Pick me!”
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