In December, I wrote about how I planned to be a better writer in 2015. Since it’s been a little more than a month since that post, I decided to check in with myself to see what type of progress I’ve made. I didn’t expect to hit every area on my list in two weeks, but I’d say I’ve gotten off to a pretty good start.
Here are 4 steps I took to advance my writing career:
Pitched two outlets. Last year, I was a total slacker on pitching. After I landed a couple of steady gigs, I got comfortable, which was a huge mistake. Then on top of that, I missed out on a major opportunity that I might write about once I’ve rectified that situation, but for now, I’ll keep it cute and put it on mute.
With pitching though, the entire process is a pain in the ass, but the bottom line is if I don’t pitch and land bylines, I don’t earn money. Since one of my goals is to double my freelance income this year, I must abandon my cozy my comfort zone . Hopefully, I’ll land another byline soon.
Reading more: I don’t have a particular goal for the number of books I’d like to read, but I’ve been making regular trips to the library. As a result, I’ve finished maybe five books within the past month. Currently I’m reading Dirty Girls on Top by Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez . It’s a followup to her book Dirty Girls Social Club, which I read a few years back. It’s basically a novel about a group of girlfriends and their respective issues (domestic violence, marriage, sexuality, infidelity, etc.). Aside from the plot lines, I really enjoy the author’s writing style. She’s so attentive to detail, which is one thing that scares me about writing a book (also on my 2015 goal list). For example, it takes some serious research to be able to describe the texture of the dirt in a specific area in New Mexico, or every nook and cranny of various cities to the tee.
I suppose that’s what she pays her copy editor for…
Attending a writers’ meeting: I’ve been stalking this local writing group called DAWG or Dallas Area Writers’ Group for what feels like forever, but something always stopped me from attending a meeting–until tonight. I’m happy I went because the featured guest speaker was author Chris Keniston, who offered a TON of helpful information on self-publishing. After listening to her speak, I feel a little bit more encouraged about actually starting the book-writing process.
Taxes: Obviously, not all tax filing experiences are created equal. My husband and I started off dealing with one really well-meaning yet terribly disorganized individual whose inept receptionist mixed up our appointment time. We arrived at 3:30, but somehow three customers were seen before us, and by the time 4:15 rolled around my husband had completely lost his patience so we left. Thankfully we were able to schedule a same-day appointment with someone else who provided excellent customer service and gave me some tips on being more organized and treating my writing like the business it is.
Usually, just hearing the words “This is your business” makes me want to pack it in and hit up CareerBuilder so I can go back to a company that takes out taxes without much input from me, provides me with health insurance and a 401K. Like, I swear the way my mind is set up, I feel like I am not cut out for this freelancing life. Then I remember how I felt working a 9-5 and immediately come back to my senses. And since since a little encouragement goes a long way, the sweet tax lady with great customer service who gave me a hug after helping me has convinced me that my freelance tax experience will be way less daunting this year because I plan to pay quarterly (much cheaper) and keep better track of my expenses for write-offs.
These may sound little things, but as a freelancing newbie like myself, they’re pretty significant steps in the right direction. Pitching, expanding my skills by reading the works of others, networking with other writers and gettin’ those finances straight are all essential to me becoming the best writer I can be.
How did writing go for you this week? Did you write something you were super proud of? Pitch any publications? Have an equally horrifying (or not) tax experience?
Let me know in the comments.