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My Unofficial Online Writing Degree

Unofficial Graduation

4 Years Down...More to Go

February 9th marks my 4-year anniversary of the beginning of my online writing career.  It’s almost like completing 4 years of college.  In usual Felicia mode, I have to look back and reflect.  You know, there’s something about aging that makes a person more reflective.

DiplomaFortunately, I’ve kept an electronic journal.  My journal started the day after my last full-time job moved several hundred miles south (and I didn’t move with them).  That occurred on July 31, 2001 and my journal was born on August 1, 2001.

I don’t often share my journal writings, but I thought this might be interesting to those of you who wish to become writers.

The first three paragraphs of my brand new journal were:

If I want to become a freelance writer, the first thing I must do is write.  Write every day.  Today is August 1, 2001.  It is the first day of my new journey.

July 31, 2001 was the last day of employment with (removed company name).  The one thing that I did learn from my expe­rience at (company name removed) is that I cannot work at a full-time, in house, 9-5 job anymore.  Family obligations and inner spirit require that I find non-traditional work.  By non-traditional work, I mean earning money in a fash­ion whereby I may work at anytime from any place.

To that end, this is my new beginning.

The Good and the Bad

The good thing was I made a mental decision to become a freelance writer.  The bad thing was that it took me so long to figure out how to make it happen.  I allowed 6 years to go by before I really put a plan into action.

What took me so long?  I had to convince myself.  While my mouth and my fingers were saying and typing the right things, I had not convinced my inner self that it was possible.  My brain knew that I could write.  My salaried jobs paid me handsomely for my writing but deep within, I had not convinced myself that I could go out there and do it for myself.

Around the Mountain for Six YearsMountains

I guess my six year journey is something akin to the 40 year Biblical Israelite journey.  It took Moses 40 years to lead his people from Egypt to the Promised Land (which was an 11 day trip).  I spent six years going around the same mountain of fear, lack of confidence and negative self talk.

During those six years I collected unemployment, worked several part-time jobs and tried to restructure our finances to make things work.  Life dealt us a few earth shattering blows and I lost my focus.  However, all things happen for a reason and the reason usually reveals itself when we least expect it.

Finally, in 2007, after spending 3 months working as a bank clerk (making just a bit above minimum wage) I had enough.  I didn’t have a plan, but I knew deep inside that I could make more money writing than I could working at my dead-end job.

I gave 2 weeks notice and my last day working at the bank was February 9, 2007. That was the very same day that I truly started my freelance writing career.

Four Year Summary

Over the next few posts I’ll try to summarize my 4-year journey (one year per post), but before I summarize my 4-year journey, I’d LOVE to hear how, when and why you became a freelance writer.  Even if you’re still in the “I’m to scared to write” phase, I’d like to hear your story.  Your story will encourage others to stop going around the same mountain (and hopefully not waste another 6 or 40 years).

{ 11 comments… add one }
  • Jennifer Holik-Urban February 9, 2011, 6:18 am

    Hi Felicia,

    Your story is one we can all relate to no matter what our goal. We often let fear, self-doubt, etc., get in our way. Here is my story.

    I stopped working full-time five and a half years ago when I had my twins (I already had one child before them). Then about three years ago an old friend reappeared in my life and over time made me realize I left all my dreams along the road somewhere after I had kids.

    I have been a family historian since 1996 and it had been my dream to have my own business. I love the thrill and challenge of being a detective and putting the pieces together to form a family or tell a story. I also dreamed of writing a book. In 2009 I dusted off my cousin’s 1941-1942 Flying Tiger War Diary I’d had for three years and decided to write his story. He died so soon after the Flying Tigers disbanded that he is barely spoken of in any other book.

    In 2010 I started my genealogy business and published my cousin’s book. In November I began writing for DS and a few other places in addition to the blogs I was writing, to “go back to work full-time” to make life easier for my family.

    I am working toward a big goal this year and some mornings I get up and wonder WHY am I killing myself like I am. Then I look at what I have done, what I want to do, what I actually earned last month and feel more confident. It is a learning process as you have said. We can read all the advice you, Ken and others post but we have to find our own way.

    Thanks again for sharing! You continue to be an inspiration!

  • Crystal February 9, 2011, 2:53 pm

    I became a freelance writer because of you – plain and simple. I’d always aspired to do so – even have copies of query letters from the 80s – but I never knew how to actually make it work. I’d searched online for opportunities from time to time without success. (I guess that could be considered a pretty sad testament to my research abilities – oops.) Then in July 2009, I ran across you on Suite101 while researching something totally unrelated to you or anything you’ve written. Following a trail of links and landing on NJFM is the best thing that’s EVER happened to me in the employment arena. Thanks for sharing your start and struggles – I look forward to the rest of the story:)

  • Will February 9, 2011, 3:08 pm

    Why am I pursuing freelance writing? The second paragraph of your journal sums it up for me.

    • Felicia February 9, 2011, 6:13 pm

      @Jennifer, a genealogy business. That sounds interesting. Sounds like you’ve found your passion and are following your dream.

      @Crystal, you give me too much credit. Many people read the information I provide here on NJFM and some folks never get started (they fall into analysis paralysis). You read the information and did something with it. I’m glad to have helped.

      @Will, sounds like you suffer with the same condition as I do, job-aversion-itis (formerly known as work-aversion-itis). I changed the name because we’re not allergic to hard work, it’s the job that causes the allergic reaction. 🙂

  • Rachel @ Pen Meets Wallet February 9, 2011, 7:27 pm

    I agree about the allergic reaction to traditional jobs! 🙂 So true.

  • Reena February 11, 2011, 9:43 am

    Congratulations on your anniversary, Felicia.

    My kids and family were always my first priority. I could
    not accept the fact that my kids will be raised by someone
    other than me. I wanted to provide my family a home and not a house! Always loved to write … when I stumbled into
    this world of internet writing, I felt blessed.

    You have been a source of constant inspiration, Felicia. The only blog I followed even when I didn’t write much.(although I was in those “scared to comment” phase!) There is something magnanimous about your posts. The more I read, the more I stick with my writing goals. Thank you!

    • Felicia February 11, 2011, 1:07 pm

      Reena, I know what you mean about the “scared to comment” phase.

      I’m not much of a commenter. It’s really funny that I have a blog where I share so much because I’ve never been much of a “hang around the water cooler” type of gal. I tend to be more of a reader (aka lurker) than a commenter.

  • William Tha Great February 11, 2011, 12:14 pm

    Hey Felicia,

    Thanks for the awesome post!

    I think the hardest part about making money online is convincing yourself it’s very possible and that you can accomplish it. Atleast that was the hardest thing for me, but I’m no freelance writer I just like reading your articles. I’m now starting to do paid guest posting for a couple of people who like my guest posting style, so will see how this works out!

    Thanks again!

    God bless,
    William Veasley

  • Sher February 13, 2011, 1:43 pm

    Hi Felicia,
    Congrats on your success and thanks so much for sharing your story here. You do inspire others, including me!

    I’ve had a couple of reasons for becoming a freelancer. About 10 years ago I was diagnosed with severe allergies and asthma and found that it was impossible to work in an office setting–I was seriously sick all the time.

    The second reason for working online was because I became an expat about four years ago when I moved to the Czech Republic. The language barrier, and my health, make it much easier to work at home.

    Both of these experiences are what eventually led me to become a freelancer and write online. I’m still in the developing phases of becoming a freelancer, but things are improving each year. I’ve been through the same phases of doubt, fear, negative self-talk that you all have, but keep moving forward. You do help us with inspiration and encouragement. Thank you!

    Have a great day,

    • Felicia February 14, 2011, 6:54 am

      Hey, Sher! It’s great to see a face behind the comments.

  • Christina Crowe March 20, 2011, 4:56 pm

    Hi Felicia,

    I didn’t know that you keep a journal. I used to keep a few as a child, though I just stopped writing in them as I aged. Thinking back though, I miss the practice of writing just for myself every day, even if just for personal motivation.

    Do you set time aside to write in your journal daily? Or is it just a whenever-I-have-time thing?

    As for why I became a freelance writer, I always knew that something in me wanted to write. I was constantly reading, and only used to write occasionally on the side to pass the time (usually fiction pieces).

    Then, I came across eHow and the possibility that I really could earn an income freelance writing. I was also contemplating blogging. However, I had my doubts in whether or not it would work for me. And these doubts were what kept me from actually taking the leap until many more months ahead when I found myself without a job and an income to support myself with.


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