So What Exactly Do I Write Anyway?

I admit, most of my writing isn’t the conventional view of Art.

In fact, it’s almost shamefully commercial in nature. I write for money, not for personal satisfaction (most of the time). Oh, I’ve been known to write short stories just for fun, and most definitely have a couple good novels rolling about inside my head, but I haven’t really tried to make a go of it in the fiction realm because…

I’m a freelance commercial (business) writer. I contact new business’s through cold calls and e-mails, with the occasional referral thrown in, and create advertisements, brochures, marketing materials, newsletters etc. which they then distribute under their own name.

Every business in operation has some sort of writing need: a website, a promotional piece, an internal employee newsletter…the list is literally massive. Most (about 75%) either use in-house writers or are small enough not to be able to afford a freelancer. But with over 10 million business’s in existence in America today, that still comes out to a little under 3 million business’s that need to hire someone like me.

I’ll take those odds.

An average business writer’s day is half spent on the phone, trying to drum up new business, and half spent working on current projects and deadlines. It pays well, and there’s a huge potential for growth depending only on how hard you want to work and how much time you can afford to put in.

Some of you have noticed the shameless emphasis I put on the connection between effectiveness and money, and commented to the effect ‘Isn’t a writer suppose to create just for themselves, and not for money?’

Firstly, given my writing history – you now know why I connect effective writing with money. In my world, good writing leads to satisfied clients who come back again and again, each time helping me paying rent, buy food, and keep the electricity on.

Secondly, all writers are trying to make money – “No man but a blockhead ever wrote, but for money” ~Samuel Johnston. All fiction writers are trying to sell books, all newsmen are trying to sell to a paper. If we humans can find a way to monetize something, we will. Writers not excepted. And that’s a good thing. Almost everything is improved by the competition involved in the act of selling.

And last, but certainly not least – writing is writing. The skill set used to create non-fiction moves easily into the realm of fiction, and vice-versa. The flow of a good newsletter feels suspiciously like the flow of a good novel, and the techniques used to draw a reader into a website can be used to hook a reader into a short story. It’s all about timing, clarity, humor, hot-and-cold narration, dialogue, and movement/pacing. All these techniques are used in commercial writing as well as modern fiction, it’s just that the application can sometimes blur the techniques to the reader. But to the writer, they’re still there and easily transferable.

I know it’s a little off the beaten path as far as writing goes. I don’t know anyone personally who writes in any sort of commercial sense. I’d be happy to answer any questions about what I do, or on how I plan on becoming a full-time writer in under a year, or direct you to any books and references. Hoarding knowledge is a sure-fire way of shriveling up your audience base. Just leave a comment and I’ll be happen to have a conversation with you!

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