the secret to freelance writing

Now that I've been a freelance writer for a few years, I get the same question a couple times a week—and it is always some variation of: "How do I get started?"

Do you have any tips for new freelance writers?

How did you get your gig at XYZ?

What's the best way to get a freelance assignment? 

Can you help me figure out what to write?

How do I become a better writer, since I want to freelance?

Here's the secret: put yourself out there, and start writing.

Seriously, it's that simple. Although I have sympathy for all the writers dying to get their words in the world (and get paid for it!) I also continually raise my eyebrows at this question. There's no workaround, no short-cut, no quick way to get published. And yes, I know there are a million stories of the blogger going viral, the one-hit wonder author at age 25, the person cherry-picked from oblivion and asked to write.

That's not been my experience, though. Mostly it involves writing. Late nights. Early mornings. During naptime. Lots and LOTS of Googling and research. Reading what other people do. Looking at bylines, and editor emails, and verticals. Endless brainstorming and pitching. And plenty of no's. In fact, probably 75% no's versus yes's. Enough to make you wanna quit? Of course. But if you want to *be a writer* in some sort of published capacity, you don't.

This spring, I stepped up my freelance game, intentionally so. My goal? Publish a first-person essay in a national print magazine. I'm happy to say I checked that off my life (stay tuned for details in November!) I also simply wanted to get more articles under my belt, so I hustled big-time. I've written 50+ articles in the past 2-3 months, and I'm really proud of that work.

But as much as I'd love to announce I've found a "secret" to making it happen, I can't. Because there isn't one. You put your head down and write. You look at a blinking cursor, or a blank page, and combat the voice in your head whispering "It's all been done, you have nothing to add" in favor of the feeling in your heart beating, "No, I want to contribute my take, I can and I will."

Want to start writing? Then start writing.