“It was the best of times; it was the worst of times…”
I’m sure that when Charles Dickens wrote that line, he didn’t realize it could apply to the life of a freelance writer. And I’m sure that unless you’re new to the freelancing game, you probably read those words with a wry grin and thought, “Oh boy, you said it.”
I’m supposed to write about a day in my life, or some aspect of my job. But what’s interesting about that? I wake up early, write plenty, and have the usual eccentricities we writers tend to share.
It’s far more interesting to talk about why I write, n’est pas?
I fell into this successful career by accident. I never planned on becoming a professional writer, a leading writing coach or the owner of a major blog. Here I am nonetheless, writing about my life as exactly that.
So how’d I fall into writing as my career choice? Necessity is the mother of invention, they say, and I was broke. Flat broke, with two kids to feed. I’d heard somewhere on the internet people would pay me to write, and hey – I made $8 my first week of freelancing.
What wasn’t to love?
But there was a problem: how the heck did you do this freelancing thing in the first place? Back in those days (which makes me sound ancient even though it was less than a decade ago), there weren’t many great resources about setting up shop or being a successful writer, unless you wrote fiction.
Oh sure, there was a blog or two on copywriting, a few bad books with even worse advice that left me feeling scammed, but that was about it.
I remember wishing that there was someone I could ask for help, someone who’d been there and who was willing to guide me in my new career with sound, trustworthy advice.
But there was no one.
So I learned everything I know today through plenty of trial and error, taking hard knocks and bouncing back as best I could. And each and every time I earned a new bruise along the way, I thought to myself, “No one should have to go through this.”
That thought became my personal mission and the foundation of everything I do today: to share my experience and knowledge with others so they don’t ever have to go through what I went through just to earn a decent living.
I wanted to help people feed their families and pay their rent and get out of debt and succeed in their small businesses — faster, better, and while avoiding all the hard knocks.
That’s why I write.
That’s why Men with Pens grew into the leading resource it’s become today. That’s why I spent several years creating writing courses. That’s why I wrote ebooks packed with tips. That’s why I blogged and guest posted all over the place.
That’s why I still do what I do today.
That’s the gift of writing: It gives each of us the power to reach out and touch people immediately. With just a few words, we can encourage and empathize with someone having a rough patch. We can help someone who is feeling stuck. We can support, and guide, and teach people what they need to know — with direct, immediate and positive impact.
And I love that my words achieve that.
Why do you write?
James Chartrand is the pen name of the founder/owner of Men with Pens and Damn Fine Words, an innovative writing course for business owners. She’s a leading copywriter, blogger, business expert, published author and online entrepreneur from Montreal, Canada.