Bill Winke writes from Centreville, Michigan, in the south-central parts of the state for 20- to 25-different magazines each year including "Petersen's Hunting," Harris Publications, Vulcan Publication, "Outdoor Life," "American Hunter" and Game and Fish magazines.
Question: What advice would you give to a young writer?
Answer: A young writer should continue to work part time, because jumping into writing full time is too stressful. My family and I had three or four tough years of living on less than what you think people can comfortably live on. Now, if you have a lifestyle where you are set up to live cheap, then you can do it. But you have to be able to live on about $10,000 or so profit the first year. Of course, if you work hard, your income will go up from there. The main thing is to start writing part time until you can build up your markets. Then you can jump in full time or else decide to set up a lifestyle that lets you live super-cheap.
Question: What are the five secrets to being a fulltime freelance writer?
Answer: Secret number one is that you have to have thick skin. Writing is such a roller-coaster business. One day you're up; the other you're down. You have to be able to roll with the punches and not take criticism or rejection personally. You're putting so much creative energy into the things you're doing that you need to be able to separate yourself from the work. You must treat your writing like a business. If you use your writing as an ego boost or something besides a business, you'll take rejection and/or criticism too hard when the situation doesn't roll your way. The second secret is to be persistent and hang in there. The mistake most people make who want to do it full time is that they don't hang in there long enough. The opportunities are there, but you have to stick with it. Third, you have to learn to type fast, and be fast in the way you interview, organize that material and write it. Writing is a business of volume, even part time, and to create enough volume to get noticed, you have to be fast. If you do your own typing, that's the physical side of it. But if you're fast, you can get a lot of work done. Fourth, cultivate all the relationships you can, meet as many people as you can, and go to all the trade shows for your type of writing that you can. Finally, when you approach editors, don't pound them with ideas. Just let them get to know who you are. A couple of years may pass before an editor finally gives you your chance, but just stick with it.
TOMORROW: WHAT'S IN THE FUTURE OF WRITING
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