“Those who say it can’t be done are usually interrupted by others doing it.” – James Baldwin
A New Year means the chance to look at things in new ways and explore new options – or, at the very least, it means you have new stuff from the holidays to make you feel better about what didn’t work in the Old Year!
There are many reasons to be cautiously hopeful, however. The economy remains sluggish, but it continues to improve. We lost quite a few publications, but so many good ones have endured, and innovative and cutting-edge ones are starting up on a regular basis. And although generally the Internet stubbornly refuses to pay writers what they’re worth, progress has been made with online producers who value their products enough to adequately reward freelancers.
So, whether you believe 2010 was half empty or half full, it can’t hurt to go into 2011 loaded up with ideas for getting your work out there.
Here are a few tips for starting 2011 on the right foot…
*Write for 15 minutes daily at least five times a week.
It’s too easy to tell yourself that you’ll write tomorrow – day after day after day. The great thing about allowing yourself to quit after 15 minutes on some of those days is that most of the time you’ll keep going. The discipline is invaluable, and you’ll wind up with usable material every time. Don’t forget to set a timer.
*Nay-say the nattering nabobs of negativism.
That includes the sister, best friend, son, Starbucks barista – whispering in your ear that being a freelance travel writer is a terrible idea and a waste of time because (insert rational-yet-dream-killing reason here). If this is what you want to do and the only one truly suffering is the kitty you put in the kennel each time you travel, buy more catnip and keep at it.
*Take it to the next level.
What that means depends on the level you’re offering now. Are you writing a few stories here and there, but haven’t tried to take your own photos? Sign up for a workshop right now! Sending off a story with photos every week, but haven’t blogged or tweeted yet? It’s time to add those to your repertoire. Adding just one small thing can make a big difference.
*Set goals and follow through on them.
It doesn’t matter what yours are; what matters is that you have them. There’s no question that successful people – and that includes freelance travel writers – purposefully set out to accomplish something. Whether that’s enticing a certain number of editors into giving feedback on your queries, getting ten stories published or earning a set amount of money is up to you, but the first thing on the to-do list is identifying and articulating your desires, followed by formulating a plan for attaining them.
*Write, and then rewrite. And then write it again.
There’s no such thing as turning in a first draft, not for good writers. Please, then, take that first draft and go over it again, rethinking every line. Even when it gives you brain blisters. Even when you feel as though someone has scooped out your stomach with a spoon. Even when you think it sounds perfect the first time. I promise the writing will be better for it.
*Don’t read your great idea somewhere else.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard from a writer who tells me that she had an idea for a story – the motorcycle trip across Australia…the trail-building tale from the Appalachian – but just never got around to writing it. A story that doesn’t get written is a story that will never get published. So, write on!
[Editor’s Note: Learn more about opportunities to profit from your travels (and even from your own home) in our free online newsletter The Right Way to Travel.]