Im a 70-year-old former businessman, used writing to boost business in my own and other people’s business. No professional writing other than for a biweekly journal called “The Senior Times” in Hollywood, Fla. in 1986. My Editor was George Keeman a former WWII correspondent. Our little paper lasted less than a year because of some drinking problems George had when I was out of town. My business experience includes General Manager of Acme Moving in Atlanta between 1980 and 1985, My own taxi company (Taxi Guy – 1985-1990 in St. Petersburg). I wrote the tariffs guide for Acme and published it separately from the Georgia Movers Association, thereby giving Acme customers better rates in the Atlanta area. Certified by the Georgia Public Service Commission, it was the envy of all the moving companies in Atlanta.
I started as a salesman in 1970 for Stewart Sandwiches where I drove a route truck and advanced into a position of New Account Representative.
I worked for Tony's Pizza later on in the same kind of job where I attained their title of "Round Up Cowboy of The Year."
The sales life was very good to me and I took another sales job selling relocation services for Acme Moving & Storage in 1980. Within 6 months f starting at Acme, I attained the position of General Manager. In 1985, Richard Blanton sold the company for 5 million dollars. From there I went to Florida and started a taxi company.
I called my company "The Taxi Guy" and enjoyed taking passengers to vacation spots and amusement parks. I planned to retire there with my company, but life brought about a sick mother with Alzheimer Dementia and I had to leave to take care of her.
I spent the next 13 years taking care of her and eventually had a stroke and later a heart attack forced me to get a quadruple bypass.
I'm retired on Social Security and supplement my miniscule income writing wherever I can.
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Writing for Living
One common rule is to start an idea in the first paragraph and finish your piece with a summary and repeat of that same idea. The job order can determine type size and length. They are looking to fill space and that is the reason for word lengths. The publication will give you the subject. Don’t elevate your writing or try to make it more erudite than you are. Your largest market will come from people who read at the sixth-grade level.
How hobby changed to Serious
Writing for me started as a hobby after I retired but became necessary as state institutions took all my money and not feeding me the way I like. When I lived in my house, I lived well. I didn’t have rent or a mortgage and would have about $600 every month left after bills and groceries.
My bout with colon cancer changed my life. I lived in a nursing facility for 2 years. My whole check was taken for rent and had to be supplemented by Medicaid. I was allowed $50 for snacks and they kept everything else. That would work if I were able to eat the food they supply. I am not one for institutional food. They like to serve boiled turkey wings or boiled pork neck bones. They don’t season the food. At any rate, I was starving from not eating the food.
I started looking for ways of earning food money. I found a site on the internet that would pay for small articles and stories. I found later, these sites were content mills.
The content site worked for me for a couple years even though the pay was low. I used the money I made to buy junk food from the vending machine. The money they paid was about 1/3 cent per word and they wanted it to be perfect. Their clients would ask for numerous rewrites and were very picky for a client that was only paying rates like $1.50. For these small amounts of money, they received all rights to the writings, and it turned out that our writers were writing for other writers that were paid well for our work. I made about $450 over 2 years, but I ate instead of starving to death. I also got a lot of experience in different styles of writing. Getting my work accepted gave me confidence, and I tried a lot of different postings. The job orders comprised copywriting, P.R. releases, scriptwriting, fiction, adult fiction, even an obituary notice fiction. Sometimes they asked for product reviews of personally untried products or services. By writing so many things, I developed writing muscles and a thick skin for rejection. Authors need both things for professional writing.
Free Writing Help
I found there were a lot of free writing tools available online like Grammarly that I could download to help correct my errors. ProWritingAid is another. I’m not trying to promote products here, but if it’s free and helps the writer, then what’s the harm? Grammarly will also keep you from saying the things that have already been published with their plagiarism checker. The writer’s sites and the different publication sites will also run the pieces through plagiarism checkers. I’ve had to rewrite pieces because the things I wrote were too close to things that other people had written. Some things we were asked to rewrite had been rewritten by many people which made it was hard to mention the product name and get by the plagiarism checker. Here I was trying to rewrite about a product I did not have knowledge of and only had the original promotion to get an idea of what the product does. It takes a lot of creativity to stay even close to the product description in those cases. The writer isn’t trying to copy; he is just trying to do the job when he has no sample or specifications of the product. The thesaurus and dictionary come in handy during those rewrite situations and became regular tools in all the writer’s work I accomplished.
The content sites also give the writer an insight into the market. There are more copywriting jobs available and the same is true in the overall writer’s market. The different fiction writing jobs just show there is a market for fiction. First you must find the market and then convince the publication of your qualifications for writing that kind of fiction. Your imagination will yield the best markets for you whether the writing is about lifestyle or hobbies.
Writing is most effective when it is imaginative and shows a different outlook on a subject. I’m not the most imaginative person so sometimes I stop and watch TV or get on Facebook to give my mind a break and occasionally think about the piece of writing I’m working on. The problem is having the discipline to get back and get down to work. Just keep writing and come back for edits and rereads.
How to Select a Subject
There is a myth that a writer should only write about the things he has experienced. This is a fallacy. That would disqualify 99.6% of all published works. The writer gains knowledge from tons of research and should always give credit to the original publications he researches. URL’s and web links add substance to your writing, and quotes from books, while sometimes not authoritative, at least shows the mindset you are writing from. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t write about your personal experience. If you have insight on a subject or a different way of looking at an experience, always attempt to get your outlook appreciated. Just remember that there is a difference in writing for yourself and writing for the public. If you take an assignment to write something, you are writing for that entity and you must write the piece as assigned. It may be against your own sensibilities. Sometimes against your own morals. The time to decide is when you are looking for an assignment. If you think you shouldn’t write what they are asking for look for another assignment. No one is forcing you to write for them, but to get paid, you must please your customer. Just imagine yourself writing an article for MSNBC and then write another with the same subject for Fox News. To sell both your articles, you must have different slants in each. Try to avoid directly lying in either piece, and you will understand the art of writing. Also, you will develop the ability to judge the pieces you hear on the networks and remember the anchor reading the news is not necessarily the writer.
I got plenty of experience in writing for companies even though I didn’t agree with their business practices. One posted job was for a flower company with delivery services. Since I had worked in a real-world florist, I assumed writing for this company would be the same as in my experience. Assumptions are always a big mistake for writers. The jobber listed the details of the company. My mistake was that I would write about the superior knowledge of the delivery people and how they could deliver the flowers in fresh condition and instruct the customer how to keep the flowers fresh. On the first rewrite I learned that the company didn’t have their own delivery service and used courier services to deliver. I took a different slant in the next rewrite and bragged about the florists and their abilities to create beautiful arrangements. They asked for a rewrite because they were using an online florist to sell arrangements that were already in their catalogue. They kept the florist they were using a secret from me as personal company property because I didn’t have clearance to receive that information. I finally realized that there was no company, just one person who created a website and was doing everything third party including the advertising, P.R. and design for the website. In today’s world, you don’t need the ability to do anything. You can just sell what other people are already doing. Many writer’s help sites are charging extreme money for the same con. The writer must learn to navigate all the cons and ignore morals most times.
Morality and Compensation
I try to find things to write about that don’t make me feel like a dirty little whore. There was one adult erotic jobber I wrote several fiction stories for and he kept requesting me over 2 years. He must have been making a good profit from my writings. The articles I wrote for him were easy for me because I wrote about things I enjoyed in life mixed with fantasies about what I would like to happen in my life. His later requests were for homoerotic art that made me uncomfortable writing about what took my imagination in a direction that offended my unconscious homophobia. He kept asking for rewrites and I finally got the story to a place where he could accept it. I stopped accepting assignments from this jobber that didn’t detail the complete subject in his advertisement for jobs.
There are more ways to write for a living than all the different jobs in the world. The different jobs in the world all make an excellent subject and make for different ways of writing. There are millions of markets for snake oil salesmen. Real-world technical manuals also provide a large market. Fiction provides many avenues from books to short stories and many topics and tastes in lifestyle. It’s amazing that you can feed yourself when writing from your wheelchair or your hospital bed. You need to find an interest and ride it till you can eat from it.
Content markets have their own rewards, but it is a shame that many of them exploit talented writers. A beginning writer will get the experience he needs from content writing if he can supplement his income until he develops his grammatical skill. After they find the skill and there is a reasonable confidence in the novice writer’s ability, he needs to market his work or find the market he is searching for. That is when he realizes that he can pay the rent with these abilities. You probably won’t get rich, but you might get happy. Most likely you’ll become overconfident, egotistical and need putting in your place. Not to worry, they will do this for you and it will be done by editors, critics, friends, family, and the public. Listen to them all and try to improve your work from their recommendations while realizing that most of them don’t have your talent. Never let people convince you that your writing is unwanted.
After experiencing the different types of writing, the real job of finding paying markets becomes the most time-consuming part of the new writer’s journey. You may find a niche that is easier for you, or for that matter, you may find that you are talented in several niches. Things that you enjoy writing about can seem more like a hobby than work, but your focus should be on earning money for your writing. It’s like keeping score in a game. No money and you’re losing, but more money means you are moving to a higher level in the game.
I’m not sure if I think of things differently because I’m a writer or I’m just messed up, but now I know that my writing has been purchased by people who will pay for my opinions. That is elevating.
Remember to always summarize with your beginning idea. It seems to be a basic theme and requirement in 21st century writing, and it is hard to find a market for styles from any other century. Start and summarize, don’t forget. Also, you need headings and, sometimes, sub-headings. Remember to keep your reading level at 6th grade unless writing for legal publication or collegiate institutions.