The First Days

8-22-2017

This is the beginning. As of Monday morning the 21st of August at 9:00 exactly my journey to become a freelancer began. Armed with my brand new shiny website, a whole lot of bookmarked websites and an updated Paypal account I dove in head first. Beginning a new journey is always so exciting. There is so much out there and you know you don’t know everything, but with time and dedication I firmly believe you can figure just about everything out.

Sometimes I ask myself when did I begin to want to be a writer. It is hard to say. Ever since my family first got a computer, one of these clunky grey macs with a tiny screen, I was typing in a Word Processing application. My brothers used to want to use the computer all the time. They’d play games and go through the time consuming effort of getting on the internet. That noise of the modem connecting to the internet through the phone lines is burned into my young memories. And anything my brothers did, I had to do as well. However, I was little and their games were too advanced for me and there wasn’t much on the internet that I could access. So I wrote stories.

I’ve always loved stories. Hearing them and telling them. They come in all sorts of fashions and I truly believe that all have value. Though… some more than others. But even the gossipy stories about who is doing what, or why. I still love to hear others talk about even the minutia of what they are doing and what they think about subjects. People have told me I am a good listener, but I think it is mostly because of my love of hearing people’s stories. Even their very real, true life stories that maybe don’t have a whole lot of action in them.

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When I was little I had a voracious appetite for books and make believe. I’d get in trouble for lying because sometimes my fantasies would trickle into my own life and I wouldn’t want to make boundaries that separated them. They were pretty obvious lies though, often a dragon or two would show up unexpectedly. Because who doesn’t want a dragon to show up?!

Even when I got older, I always had stories that I loved to spin in my head. I’d type them out and redraft them over and over and over again. The characters became friends and the environments were as familiar to me as my own home. Even today, when I struggle to go to sleep I find myself outlying old stories and imagining what happened to these characters next. They even became a sort of catharsis. They were worlds that I had complete control over.  So when things were tough in my own life, I could find refuge in a world that was always comforting.

I knew that I struggled with self discipline though. Becoming a writer would take a lot of work and I didn’t know if I was cut out for it. So when finishing school and the aftermath, I tried to think of other professions I could do that still seemed related. I played with idea of library sciences, editing, publishing…. All sorts of ideas that never really panned out because my heart wasn’t truly there. What I wanted to be doing was writing.

 

So here I am. Writing my heart out at every prompt I am given. I started my search through freelancing websites that have compiled lists of employers looking for writers. Websites like this Entrepreneur site that lists 101 Places to Find Freelance Jobs. There are resources all over the internet. I have signed up for newsletters, job posting boards, and freelance writing advice columns. In short, I have been trying to dive head first into the water and work as hard as I can every day.

Mostly, as I need to build up my portfolio, I have been applying to content mills. Content mills are companies that employ tons of freelance writers in order to be able to produce a significant amount of content for all of their clients. Mainly this is SEO (search engine optimization) text based material. So all of those websites with thousands of click bait articles that are designed to keep you jumping from site to site under the same heading. They are the articles that come up when you type things into google. Simple answers to questions, in easy to read formatting. All stuff that, hopefully, will eventually pay my bills.

The first step of most of these websites is a test. I have done more grammar tests in the past two days than I have since Middle School. Even when I was taking that Reading and Rhetoric class in high school. And certainly, my university classes didn’t have grammar lessons but I definitely peer reviewed some papers that could have used it. Heck,  I probably could have used it! It’s kinda fun looking for punctuation mistakes and making sure I know the proper distinction between its and it’s. The test have gone very from very basic principles, things that any native English speaker would be able to tell right away, like if you can detect the readability of a sentence. Most people would recognize the incorrect choice immediately. There was one test though that really made me think that I might need to brush up on my grammar. It was highly specific and while I passed, I didn’t get the 100% I wanted. And it is a competitive market out there so not having perfect grammar might be the difference I need.

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The prompts I have been writing have been all over the place: I’ve outlined the merits of pet sitters, written about a local landmark (I chose the big cross at the top of Mont Royal and the cities origins as a catholic missionary camp), and debunked the myth that celery has negative calories. Pretty much, I’ll write about anything they ask me to!

Now I just have to wait for some answers! Well, I’ll still be frantically applying to everything I can. But it will be good to hear back from some of the companies that I have applied to. Even if it is a no, I can look at the submission I gave them and see if I can figure out where I went wrong. So far I can see that the waiting is going to be the hardest part. I’ll let you know how it goes when I know more!