I’ve got no writing experience, how can I start?

writers experienceHi AWS,

I’ve worked in human resources for over a decade, but I don’t have experience writing in that field. All the writing gigs I’ve seen ask for samples in the HR field and I don’t have any. What can I do?

Lilly

Hi Lilly,

You’ve been in HR for 10 years and you don’t have any experience writing in that field? I don’t believe it!

Surely you’ve written a report or two as part of your job. In fact I’ll bet you’ve written all sorts of things, from job descriptions to rather lengthy reports about one thing or another HR related for your employers.

Okay, maybe you’ve never written a magazine article, but what about articles for newsletters? Or maybe even a complete newsletter?

free content for writersJust because you’ve never had an article published in a magazine or book or blog doesn’t mean you don’t have plenty of experience writing in your field.

Start by making a list of such documents. My hunch is you’ll you stop before you finish because you’ve been doing way more writing in the field than you realized. And it’s possible that you might be able to use one or two of those as samples; if your not sure, ask – you may be pleasantly surprised.

You can actually use that list as the start of your writing credits for your website. (And if you don’t have a website yet make that a priority with these 8 steps.)

You can write a few sample articles for your website.

You can use your experience to write an article or two for magazines on spec – you submit the whole article.

You can cite your work experience in a query to magazine editors.

You can cite that experience in your response to ads; if you also link to your website samples you’re all set.

It may help to remember that none of us was born with writing credits! We’ve all had to get our first one and then our second, etc.

If you really want to start freelance writing the thing to do is to start writing and submitting, and responding to ads offering reasonable rates for writing. There really is no secret – as Nike says, just do it!

You may also want to read No Experience Needed To Be A Freelance Writer.

Do you have a question about freelance writing? Send it to Freelancewritingsquared @ gmai l. com with Q&A in the subject line and we’ll do our best to answer it here.

Now it’s your turn. Tell us, in comments, how you got started or describe the problems you’re having getting started.

Image: AttributionShare Alike Some rights reserved by Jeremiah Ro

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8 Ways To Get Out Of A Writing Rut

Get out of your writing rutWhen you’ve been writing awhile and you feel stale it may well be you’ve gotten into a writing rut.

I suspect it happens to all of us at one time or another. It may be that those of us who have a niche run into this a bit more often than those who write on a wide variety of topics, but even then, it’s totally possible to feel stale when they sit down to the keyboard.

The first step in getting out of the freelance writing run is to become aware you’re in one. I know I often mutter and mumble for a few days, feeling vaguely off. Sooner or later the proverbial penny drops and I realize I’m not sick, I’m not losing my touch as a writer, I’ve simply slipped into a rut with my freelance writing. (My father used to say a rut was like being in a grave with both ends kicked out.)

Once I see the problem there are several approaches I find helpful.

Take a break. An hour stretched out in the sun or someplace comfortable reading a novel will often snap me right out of it. Sometimes I’ll read some non-fiction, but this isn’t about reading for work; it’s about moving as far away from my day’s writing as possible.

Getting outside and doing something physical for an hour or so really helpsSeveral years ago I wrote about kayaking as a way to be more creative. It doesn’t have to be that physical… strolling the neighborhood for awhile also works.

Take a longer break. John Soares talks about why Freelance Writers Need Vacations. The term, vacation, of course tends to conjure up visions of a week or more in some exotic place. That’s great when it’s possible, but it isn’t always. Longer breaks can be a short as a day wandering around a museum or other daytrips that takes you away from your work and into refreshment.

Make a list. I love this one because I can do it right at my desk. The goal is to make a long list of article or blog post ideas, but it’s not limited to that. It could be book titles, poem topics, anything at all really. Give yourself an hour to make a list of everything you know, or everything you want to know. Aim for 100 items without working too hard to get there. If, during that hour, you’re inspired to google one topic or another, do so.  This sort of off the wall exploration of what’s available in your head will often break you right out of that writing rut.

Take a class. I find this works best if I get out of the house to take a class, although I’ve also had good experiences with online classes. Find a class that’s not directly related to your writing and your work. If you write about marketing, take an astronomy class, or learn to cook chicken, or make something in clay. You get the idea. You’re doing something new which will shift your mind out of the rut it’s fallen into.

Find someone to help. Help a writing newcomer, visit someone in the hospital, volunteer at the library. Any time we reach out to help we make the world a better place and take the focus off ourselves. Sometimes ruts are made up of unaware selfishness.

Develop some new goals or refocus some old ones. Getting in touch, or remembering, why you’re developing your writing business and/or why you’re writing is downright refreshing.

free content for writersBe willing to make mistakes. Sometimes that feeling of being in a rut is a cover for a misguided drive for perfection. Give it up – you can’t get there anyway because no one knows what it is. Free yourself up to make mistakes and see if that doesn’t kick the sides out of that rut.

Now it’s your turn. How do you get out of a writing rut?

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