The Worst Writing Advice I’ve Heard

Creative Director at Buck and Digital Design Grad Ryan Honey Visits VFSArticle by Wendy McCance

I have read many pieces of writing advice I don’t necessarily agree with.  I am not saying that all the writing advice out there is bad, but when I began my own writing career, there was a lot of information I bought into that I just no longer agree with.

One of my top complaints is when it is stressed that you need to find a niche.  Maybe that was what worked for some, but I found that if you narrow your choices of topics, you will only lose out on quite a few assignments.

No one can write about all topics.  I wrote about struggling with my first ever assignment where I was supposed to write for a financial marketing firm.  I didn’t know enough about the topic they wanted me to write about.  Even after researching it, the topic was just too technical for me.

Since that initial assignment, I have written about Waterjet Systems, Real Estate, QR Codes, Landscaping, Construction, A Car Dealership Program, Retirement and more.  I have a fairly diverse portfolio of topics.  The majority of my clients are marketing and PR companies.  Because of the wide range of clients they take on, they need someone who can write about all sorts of things.

To be able to write about so many topics, you need these three skills:

  1. You need to ask good questions.  I send out questionnaires for clients to fill out.  I ask questions like, what are you looking to accomplish in this article?  Or I’ll ask, what are the most important points that you want mentioned?
  2. You need to be a good researcher.  I look up the subject matter and read up on the basics of what the topic is really all about.  You also need to be quick at getting your answers.  No one will be too thrilled if you charge several hours of researching fees.
  3. You also need to know when a topic is seriously out of your element and pass on it.  At that point, you aren’t helping yourself  and don’t want to damage your reputation because of a poorly written article.
  4. Finally, I don’t think that having a “niche” is as important as understanding what types of tone you are able to take on.  Maybe you are great at writing in a personal tone, but have difficulty writing in a very technical format.  I would say that the tone you can give to a writing piece is much more important to know than worrying about having a niche to write about.

The other piece of advice that just drives me crazy is to, wait until you have a good size amount of  savings before you jump into a career as a writer.  Of course I am not suggesting that you and your family struggle and have no food on the table.  Sure, have some money socked away.  I will tell you this though, there will never be a “perfect” time to jump into a writing career.  I believe the quicker you see success depends a lot on how badly you need that success.

When I went into writing full-time, I felt that I had to make it work.   At the time, I was having difficulty maintaining a traditional job because of my fibromyalgia.  I needed to find a job where I could sit, stand, walk around or sleep when I needed to.  I felt that pursuing a writing career was my only option .  I had no choice.  I had to make it work.  There was no savings, but my husband was working and we were managing (barely) on just his income.

When I started out, I was working seven days a week and 8 - 10 hours most days.  I would work before my kids got up for school, all day while they were in school and even more after they went to bed.  There were even days where my husband took over so that I could work in the evening while the kids were still awake.

My point is, if you really want a career as a writer,  you just have to do it.  It doesn’t matter what other people have to say about the pitfalls.  Everyone will have their rough moments.  No two people will have the same experiences either.  As you pursue your dream, you will stumble and  but you will also learn.  It’s just part of the process of learning how to work for yourself.

If you are looking for some inspiration, you must check out this interview with Jon Morrow.  This is one of the best interviews I have seen.  Jon Morrow does an excellent job of explaining his thought pattern as he created the success you are all so familiar with.

I wish everyone who dreams of a writing career tons of success.  There is room out there for all of us. Just take the leap and enjoy the thrill of going after your dream.

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Wendy McCance

Wendy McCance is a Michigan based freelance writer and social media consultant. Wendy has gained attention as the founder of the popular blog Searching for the Happiness which can be viewed in 6 local papers online, including the Oakland Press.The combination of writing skills and social media knowledge is what makes Wendy such a powerhouse to work with. Stay tuned for opportunities to advertise, guest post and as always, have your questions answered.

To contact Wendy McCance about a writing assignment, interview or speaking engagement, please email her at: [email protected]

8 thoughts on “The Worst Writing Advice I’ve Heard

    • I’d love to know how the book is coming along and what other things have been happening. I think we have both been blogging for long enough now that things are getting mighty exciting. :)

  1. Thank you so much for that. I have been trying to figure out if I have a niche’. Maybe someone’s niche can be writing about everything instead on concentrating on a particular area. For someone like me who does not have any expertise in an area this is especially true. If you tend to write about life experiences like I prefer and it seems you do as well, then maybe that is all there is to it. I’m still struggling with not having anyone seem interested in what I write but I’m not giving up. Thanks again.

    • I have found thatthe best thing to do is forget about all of the advice and follow your gut. I overanalyzed everything at first. I figured that there had to be a definitive road map and that these writers were demonstrating the exact way to get to my goal. Even though I am giving advice myself, everyone will have their own unique way of making it work. Wishing you all the best.

  2. Thanks again Wendy for the wonderfully motivational encouragement (wow, that was a mouthful!) I am here now, doing just that, while my husband holds down the fort, works and supports. I’m not making much at the moment but I’m getting ‘out there’ slowly and surely. I’m gonna make it, and you are helping me with that! Keep on keeping on :-)

    • Hi Sherri, I can’t wait to hear how things progress. It does get exciting to see how things take off. If you work the prospecting and really put in the effort each day, you will see a trickle of people (a few every few weeks) that grows in leaps and bounds until all of a sudden (couple of months) you have a good handful of people to work with and then that will multiply. The best advice I can give you is don’t worry about how to juggle the people and definitely don’t stop reaching out to new clients as you begin to get assignments. What you will find is that it will take longer for more than half your clients to move quickly through the process so you will need additional clients to pad you. Prospect every day. Even if you only touch on two possibilities. It will be worth it!!!

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