Thursday, February 5, 2009

Are you making some things happen, or waiting for something to happen?

My brother and his girlfriend took me out to dinner last night to Chinese food. At the end of the meal, we each opened our fortune cookie. One of them was one of the best I'd ever read...I may misremember the exact phrasing, but essentially it said: Make some things happen, instead of waiting for something to happen.

This is a philosophy that I have always tried to live by. I've never been one to sit around and moan that nothing good ever happens to me--I'm the one that decides something needs to happen and I try to figure out how to bring it about. However, we're all human and slip from time to time. I get busy with projects and forget to seek more, and soon I'm out of work (and money).

This is a little bit of a stretch on the original intent of the message, but it's a good lesson anyway: as a freelance writer, you have to constantly make things happen for you. It's easy to get complacent when you have ongoing relationships with an editor or two who give you work every month, but is that enough to pay your bills? What if they have to cut back? Keep sending out queries, posting on bid sites, online content sites, etc. You have to constantly push. I let things slack last fall, and I am just now really recovering and getting to the point where I have enough work.

Every writer is hoping for that phone call or email from Big Time Magazine Editor saying, "I read your piece in XX and I want you to write for me", but that just doesn't happen...or it's exceedingly rare if it does. (Pause to chuckle, because I saw an episode of Family Guy last night, where the New Yorker called Brian and asked him to write for them because he'd written something in some podunk paper. They fired him because he didn't have a college degree.) You have to keep sending those queries out.

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