So it’s a couple of days after the new year, and i can’t help but feel extremely excited and hopeful for opportunities ahead of me. It’s a massive boost on the start on 2016, where I felt confused and skeptical about how I could make myself into a writer, especially when I was so insecure about writing in general. The best thing I did last year was to acknowledge the voice that told me it was going to be hard, and attempting it anyway.
Last year was about development across as much writing skills as I could do on such a restricted budget. I didn’t have a laptop or computer, so I had to write around 500 words a day on an app on my phone. I couldn’t pay for the writing competitions, so I joined free entry writing sites like Scribophile (Check it out). I knew what I wanted to do, but wanted to expand my potential, so joined freelance writing sites such as People Per Hour and Upwork. Things didn’t always seem to move as fast as I wanted, but when something budged a little my way, the confidence it gave me was evident in my work.
Now in 2017 I have written a lot of short stories, mostly for Scribophile, a site where you can upload work for critiquing for free, or pay for special privileges. I am extremely lucky to have been given a free year membership just after Christmas from a member of the site who said that they believed in my work and wanted to help me develop my craft. If that doesn’t tell you about the sort of people who use the site then I don’t know what will.
Scribophile is a site dedicated to looking at each others work, and developing the ability to look at a piece of writing and spot what’s good, and what needs improvement. I uploaded my first piece around June 2016, and I was rather worried about what they might say. I can be a over-zealous writer, who would rather do several revisions of a piece without showing someone if it is any good. This site helped me break out of that worried bubble, and learn what I am naturally gifted at, and what needs work. If you’re interested in getting serious about writing (Something I have never done), or you’re looking for a new community to develop your skills, then check this site out.
Upwork is a freelance writing site, where you can do anything from: Data entry, App work, to writing novels. It’s a strange place where you’ll learn early on that there is a strange increase in people who have ideas and money, but don’t actually want to do the work. As a writer I want to find out what i’m capable of, and what interests me, and this site definitely helped.
My first job was working for a SCI-FI card game/video game company, who wanted me to develop an entire mythos for a galactic battleship game. I didn’t expect to get the job, I hadn’t done anything like this before, but I applied anyway. I will say now that while lying about one’s skills and work history is considered in bad taste, there is something to be said about embellishing the truth to get where you need to go.
I knew I could do the work, and wanted to the opportunity to do so, but professionally by this point I was a little light on “actual” experience. But i’m a writer, and everything I wanted to do was in my head, so I fabricated some truths, and shuffled around the chronology of projects that hadn’t been at that point completed. I didn’t lie about my skills as a writer, and I wrote a couple of thousand words that night, to show what I wanted to do, and as a result of my determinism I got the job.
I wouldn’t suggest to ever lie about your abilities. If you can’t write erotica, then don’t claim you can, because they will figure it out. But if you’re a dedicated artist, who is looking for that leg-up in the world, then make sure you take every opportunity you can, just do the work you said you’ve completed in the meantime. People want hard workers, professionals, and fanatics to bring their projects to life, and sometimes you just have to try regardless.
I will say that Upwork has provided a lot of opportunities over 2016, to try out new things, and learn a lot about myself, but it’s also taught me a lot about the professionalism needed to keep a writer earning fare wage for fare work. I have had clients try and manipulate me into writing huge amounts of work for tiny pay, or in some cases trying to get out of payment at all. Having the opportunity to get paid for doing something you love is wonderful, but you also have to remember that you have a write to payment that reflects your skills and quality, even as a freelance writer. Learning when to stick to a project that has fallen through on some of its agreements, but offers you a chance to develop skills in writing, is something you will have to figure out. The same goes with walking away from projects which offer you very little for a lot of your time and effort, again this is a skill that will help you in the long run.
As a starting writer you will not know what you’re capable of, and people will try and abuse that at times, but like rejection emails this is just a part of becoming a professional. You learn to develop a thick skin, while hopefully keeping yourself open to new experiences and opportunities. Sometimes you have to take the easy way out, and do the work for the pay, but as long as you know that, you can keep your integrity and remember why you’re doing this is the first place. It’s a chance to create for a living, it’s not supposed to be serious and professional, but there are times and people who will try and get in the way. Keep positive, and remember to thank the people who have helped you along the way.
Scriggler is a new platform for me to upload some of my short stories, which up until I was granted full membership on Scribophile, meant I could only upload 2 short stories. Scriggler is another place where people can easily view your work, and while it doesn’t have the critiquing options of scribophile, is much more accessible and general. I haven’t used the site for very long, but in the few weeks that i’ve uploaded my work, i’ve seen it posed all over Twitter, which has connected more and more people to my work. In a day one of my pieces went from 50 views to 200, as ten lovely people retweeted it.
There’s a lot to be said about building that confidence in writing, and when someone wants to read your work, or thanks you for creating, it has an effect on you that makes you want to write a hundred times more. My advice for anyone trying to share their art with the world, is to just do it. It probably isn’t going to be perfect, and that’s ok. You will get there in your own time, but the way of art today is confluence, and to get that you need to connect it to as many people as possible. It might not make you rich straight away, but it will keep you going, that way you’re not going to keep putting it off.
2017 is extremely exciting for me, and it’s because i’ve moved past that “I don’t think i’m any good” stage, and instead accepted that fact, so now I can focus on getting better. If it was always easy you wouldn’t want it so much, so whenever that voice tells you to stop because people don’t want to see it, try it anyway, because they might. Trust me, it’s the best kind of being wrong.
Don’t let people get in the way of doing what you want (Unless it involves heavy machinery). People will tell you what you’re capable of, and it’s your duty to prove them wrong each and every time. Be the change you want to see, and remember to smile when you’re moving upwards.