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Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Creativity is Work

I don't know why, but I've found myself answering the question: "How do you become a writer?" Technically I'm a professional writer at this point in my life. I make my living by writing articles for various websites. I didn't intend for this to be my job, but it's working for me, for now.

Part of the answer to the question of how I became a writer is that we had no other way of making money and we were desperate. We were living in Ireland for the summer of 2010 and we had no way of being legally employed. We were volunteering on a farm, but that only provided shelter and food for us. So I scoured the Internet for jobs I could do online from a trailer next to a horse pasture. What I found was writing how-to articles.

I'm with a major content provider (sometimes called a content mill) that connects writers with projects en masse. I'll tell you more about it privately, if you want me to. Basically I get to write the titles they give me and submit them online in exchange for being paid online. It's not a glamorous gig, but it did give us some beer money while in Ireland.

When we came back I started looking for other jobs, but I couldn't find anything that would offer the same pay and flexibility as I already had. So I kept with it. I'm now writing about 25 hours a week and that pays most of the bills that we have (along with my wife working too, it's not a lot of money). It may not be the highest paying job in the world, but there's one thing that it gives me that most other jobs can't: I work on the craft of writing and get paid for it.

Every day I have to sit and write about 2,000 words of text. Every day I interact with copy editors and receive critique on my work. Every day I comply with guidelines to get my work approved. Every day I hone the tools in my writing toolbox.

Being creative is like a muscle. If you don't exercise it, you won't have any endurance. But, if you do work it, even if the work is boring, treadmill work, the muscle gets stronger. You can do more and do it longer.

There's a heady rush that every creative person feels when inspiration strikes. It's beautiful. I had an epiphany last night as I was working on an outline for a new project. I spent a moment to just bask in the light of inspiration. But that doesn't finish the project, or even start it. The one thing I've learned about being a writer that it worth of being passed on to others is this: do it. Write. No excuses, no re-scheduling, just write.

How do you exercise your creativity?

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