What I Wish Someone Had Told Me When I Decided To Write For A Living

I have been a full-time writer for a very long time. That’s not to say that I’ve always made my living off of writing, only that I have always written as much as possible, even when it wasn’t paying the bills. 

And in all this time, there are some things about this job that took me years to learn and would have saved me a lot of grief if someone had just told me. So here are the most important things I wish I’d known when I started:

5 Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me When I Started Writing
Key Takeaways
1. Embrace the Journey: Acknowledge that a writing career is a journey with highs and lows. Embrace challenges as opportunities for growth and improvement.
2. Persist Through Rejection: Rejection is a natural part of the writing process. Learn from feedback and use it to refine your skills and your work.
3. Develop Consistent Habits: Establish a regular writing routine to foster discipline and productivity. Consistency can lead to gradual improvement and increased output.
4. Seek Guidance and Mentorship: Don’t hesitate to reach out to experienced writers for advice and mentorship. Their insights can provide invaluable guidance on your journey.
5. Continuously Learn: The writing world evolves, and staying up-to-date with industry trends, technology, and different writing styles can help you adapt and remain relevant.

Say Yes To Everything

That’s the most important lesson I learned when I decided to become a freelance writer. If someone offers you an opportunity, take it even if it seems like a bad idea at first. There are only two ways things can go: 

1. You’ll have a great experience and make some new friends or contacts; 2. You’ll get fired (which is also fine because then you’ll have more time for other things). There’s no reason not to try something new; don’t be afraid of failure or rejection!

The only way to find out whether or not something is in your wheelhouse is by trying it out and seeing how it goes. 

It may seem scary at first but with each new experience comes valuable knowledge about yourself, about other people, about how things work in this industry/business/world generally speaking…and that knowledge helps shape who you are as a person (for better or worse).

Becoming a full-time freelance writer while managing a busy schedule might seem challenging, but with the right strategies, it’s possible to turn your passion into a career. Discover how to navigate this journey in our article on becoming a full-time freelance writer without compromising your existing commitments.

Write A Lot

I can’t stress this enough. If you want to be a writer, write every day.

The best way to improve your writing is by writing more even if you’re not sure that what you are producing is good or great. 

Write every day, even if it’s just for 10 minutes or an hour or two hours whatever amount of time works for you at the moment. Eventually, this will lead to better and more frequent writing bursts.

Writing daily is also a great way to prevent burnout because it’s easy for me (I know many others who share this experience) when I’m feeling burned out on one project; I’ll start another project instead of taking time off from work altogether. 

When working on multiple projects at once something I do often these days it’s important that I feel compelled enough by each project so that when one wanes in interest slightly (as all projects do), another takes its place as something exciting and interesting again

Don’t Be Afraid Of Rejection

As you make your way through the world of writing, you’ll receive all kinds of feedback. Some will be glowing praise and some will be absolute derision. What’s important to remember is that both can be valuable.

Rejection is a good thing! It means someone has taken the time to read your work, even if it turns out they didn’t like it for whatever reason. 

Accepting rejection as part of the process allows you to keep trying new things without fear or self-doubt and most importantly, it helps keep your ego in check when things don’t go according to plan.

Writing for a niche blog can provide unique insights and experiences that contribute to your growth as a writer. Explore our reflections on lessons learned from writing for a niche blog, and discover how focusing your writing can lead to valuable expertise and improved storytelling.

Write Freebies

If you’re starting, write for free for as long as you can. This is not just about the money although that’s important too.

If you don’t have a portfolio if no one knows who you are and what your strengths are, then how can anyone hire you? How can anyone give your work any value? And if they can’t do either of those things, why would they pay for it?

The first time I ever got paid to write was when I was 25 years old. Before then, I’d written lots of pieces for free some in college newspapers and magazines; some on websites like Craigslist (where it still exists today), and some on my blog. 

These were all unpaid assignments (except for one). But writing them exposed me to several editors at major publications who liked my work enough to offer me paid gigs once they saw what kind of writer I could be. So don’t be afraid of putting yourself out there!

But Don’t Be Afraid To Charge

I know you want to do great work, and I know you want to be compensated for it. That’s why I’m telling you not to be afraid of charging. You’re a professional, and you deserve to be paid accordingly.

At the same time, though, there is some flexibility in what that rate can look like. It could mean different rates for different projects or services (for example a magazine article vs. a book manuscript). 

Or it could mean different rates for audiences (for example an academic journal vs. an online publication). 

The point is that if your minimum price per word isn’t enough money for your needs or if it seems like people are more willing than not willing to pay more then don’t be afraid of charging more!

Be Honest

I think we all get the importance of being honest with ourselves, but what about other people? Be honest with your readers, whether it’s a reader like you who is trying to make their way in the world or the editor who needs to know what will sell. 

And if there is one thing I’ve learned about writing for publication, it’s that honesty pays off both for you and those around you.

To be honest when you write and work with others, too. That doesn’t mean telling them everything (that would get old fast).

But it does mean not hiding things from them because they might not like them or it might upset them or even just because they’re busy focusing on something else.

Don’t Be Afraid To Fanboy/Girl Out On Your Influences

One of the best things about being an aspiring writer is getting to meet and talk with people who are already doing what you want to do. 

I loved talking shop with other writers, especially those whose work I admired. But sometimes, my admiration was so intense that I found myself tongue-tied or overawed.

I remember meeting one of my heroes at a party during my first year as a writer in New York (I didn’t care much for the party). He’d written this book that had changed me as a reader when I was a young man. 

It’s still one of my favorite novels today, but back then it was more than just a good book: it was like an answer to prayer it felt like divine intervention 20 years before I ever heard that phrase! This guy had even inspired me to write something kind of similar myself!

That night at the party, we talked about writing for about five minutes before he excused himself for some reason or another and left me standing there staring after him like someone had punched me in the gut which isn’t far from how I felt when he turned away from me without saying anything else besides “nice seeing you.”

Seeking advice from seasoned writers is a great way to enhance your craft and refine your writing skills. Dive into the collective wisdom of experienced authors in our compilation of tips for being a better writer, where 18 writers share 13 valuable insights to help you excel in your writing journey.

Always Ask For More Money

The money you earn as a freelance writer will probably be lower than the salary you used to make. 

That’s a hard truth, but one that needs to be faced head-on. If your first freelance writing job is paying less than half of what you were making in your last full-time job, don’t let it go unless there are compelling reasons why. 

If the pay feels ridiculously low for the amount of work involved and experience required, then it is not worth it for either party and there’s no shame in walking away from an offer that doesn’t make sense considering all factors involved (including time spent researching assignments).

Be prepared to negotiate. You may think this sounds aggressive or unprofessional but remember: if someone wants your services enough they will pay more than they initially planned on offering if they have another option available that requires less effort on their part. 

And if they don’t have another option available? Then they’ll have no choice but to give in and meet your demands.

Don’t wait until after accepting an offer before negotiating payment terms the contract should include details such as rate per word/hour/etc., 

Deadline dates, invoicing information (such as whether payment is due upon receipt or upon publication), any additional fees associated with changes made during the editing process; plus any other relevant details specific only to individual assignments. Always ask for more money!

Find Your Allies And Your Champions

In a world of constant rejection and criticism, it’s important to find your allies and champions. These are the people who will help you weather the storm when things seem bleak and lost. 

They’re the ones who can tell you when your work is good, or bad, or somewhere in between, but they won’t judge it as bad if they truly believe in you and your abilities as a writer.

When I started writing full-time back in 2006, I didn’t have many allies or champions. The only person who believed in me was my husband who had no experience with writing himself (although he has since become an avid reader). 

Over time we added a few more people into our inner circle: my mom, my cousin (who was also a published author at the time), some friends from high school/college…and so on. 

Each person brought something different to the equation a different perspective on life; shared experiences from their own lives that helped me understand mine more clearly; 

Advice about how to navigate certain situations; emotional support during difficult times made all our relationships stronger and enriched each one individually because there were lots of shared commonalities among us all!

You’re Not Going To Get A Lot Of Feedback

If you are a writer, chances are that most of your writing will not be read by very many people. 

You might write an incredible essay and only have one person read it, or maybe even no one reads what you wrote! I know this sounds depressing, but it’s true: most writers do not make a living from their writing.

But don’t let this stop you! Here’s how to deal with it:

If someone doesn’t like your work and tells you as much, don’t take it personally. Don’t let it get the best of your self-esteem or lead to negative thoughts about yourself as a writer (or person). Instead, ask yourself questions like “What did they dislike?” 

“Does my writing need improvement in this area?” Or if they were just having an off day and didn’t like anything at all because they had a bad mood, then maybe just move on without worrying about what they thought about your piece or its quality.

If you’re considering launching a freelance writing business, our comprehensive guide on starting a freelance writing business from scratch is a must-read. Learn the essential steps to establish your brand, find clients, and set yourself up for success in the competitive world of freelance writing.

Don’t Write Something Just Because You’re Paid To Do It

As a writer, you have to write what you want to write. You should be passionate about it and know a lot about it. You should also be good at it. If there are things that interest me, I would love to write about them or get paid for writing about them.

Here’s the thing though: I don’t have an audience that pays me for what I know or teach people how to do something better than they already do it. 

That’s OK because even though I don’t make money with my writing right now, I feel like the work is helping me grow as a person, and hopefully one day soon my passion will lead to something more rewarding than just being able to pay bills.

Trust Your Instincts; They Led You Here In The First Place

Writing is a lot like painting. The more you write, the better you get at it. But when you’re just starting and considering writing as a career, it’s hard to know if your work will be any good or if people will even want to read what you’ve written.

I wish someone had told me that my instincts will always lead me in the right direction.

  • You know what you’re good at.
  • You know what you’re not good at.
  • You know what you like versus what makes your skin crawl (or vice versa).
  • And finally, the most important thing: What makes your heart beat faster?

Trusting these things helped me a land where I am today and this advice is just as helpful for those considering writing careers today!

The More You Do This Job, Especially In Entertainment

The more you do this job, especially in entertainment, the more you will learn. The more you learn, the more flexible and versatile your skills become.

The more you do this job, especially in entertainment, the more you will be able to do. The more that people need something done promptly and under budget constraints and they always do the more valuable and indispensable your talents become.

The more you do this job, especially in entertainment, the more money you can make (in theory). It’s hard enough just to keep up with expenses as a freelancer; having any sort of savings at all is a big achievement for most of us. 

But if we’re smart about it and manage our finances carefully so that we’re not living paycheck-to-paycheck without being able to save anything substantial? Well, then we can build some real wealth over time!

The More You Do This Job, Especially In Entertainment

The more you do this job, especially in entertainment, the more you will be asked to do work that is less than ideal. If you are like me and want to make a living writing, then you will have to take what comes your way. 

Some of it may not fit your taste or honor code. It’s just part of working in Hollywood. I can only advise that when faced with these situations and there will be many throughout your career.

You weigh your options carefully, knowing full well what they are before agreeing to anything that compromises your integrity or sense of self.

Books have the power to shape and refine your writing skills. If you’re on a quest to become a better writer, explore our list of 15 must-read books that will help you improve your writing. From craft techniques to creative inspiration, these titles offer valuable resources for honing your writing craft.


You’ll always be learning. It’s not glamorous, but it’s an exciting career if you can stomach the uncertainty and lack of feedback. You have to love writing because no one’s going to hold your hand through it or tell you how good you are. 

But if you make it work for long enough, there will be people who want to pay you money for your words and that’s pretty damn cool!

Further Reading

Here are some additional resources that provide insights and advice on related topics:

How to Explain Your Reasons for Leaving a Job Short Description: Learn how to navigate job interviews and address questions about leaving previous positions in a way that highlights your professionalism and career growth.

3 Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me as a Writer Short Description: Gain valuable perspectives from an experienced writer on three essential pieces of advice that can make a significant impact on your writing journey.

7 Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me About Writing Short Description: Explore seven insightful revelations about the writing process, shared by an author who has encountered the challenges and triumphs of the craft.


How can I effectively explain my reasons for leaving a job during an interview?

When discussing your reasons for leaving a job during an interview, it’s important to be honest, concise, and focus on the positive aspects of your career journey. Highlight how the decision to leave contributed to your personal and professional growth.

What are the key insights that an experienced writer wishes they had known earlier in their career?

Experienced writers often wish they had known the importance of perseverance, embracing failure as a learning opportunity, and seeking guidance from mentors or peers to accelerate their growth as writers.

What are some valuable tips for writers to enhance their writing process?

Authors who have walked the writing path before you often recommend establishing a consistent writing routine, welcoming feedback with an open mind, and dedicating time to both writing and reading to continually improve your craft.

How can I navigate the challenges and uncertainties of the writing journey?

Writing, like any creative pursuit, comes with its share of challenges. Building resilience, maintaining a supportive network, and learning from your experiences are effective strategies to navigate the ups and downs of the writing process.

What are some lesser-known aspects of the writing process that writers should be aware of?

While writers often focus on the creative aspects of their craft, understanding the business side of writing, exploring various genres, and embracing rejection as part of the journey are crucial insights that can contribute to long-term success.