One of the most common threads I come across when reading comments and stories written by new freelance writers is the struggle that they face when attempting to get their first well-paying jobs. Many times these writers have dealt with rejection after rejection, or have taken low-budget jobs simply in order to generate a little income. After grinding it out for paltry compensation for a few weeks, they become discouraged and burned out. At this point, a large percentage of them seem ready to give up and go back to their previous lives, unwilling to stick it out freelancing with such seemingly dismal prospects on the horizon.
The reason I am writing about this is actually not related to freelancing at all. A close friend of mine is a race engineer for Dale Coyne Racing, an IndyCar team. This past weekend their driver, Justin Wilson, won at Watkins Glen in New York. Winning any race is a major cause for celebration in the cut-throat world of professional motorsports, but for team owner Dale Coyne it was extra special – because it was the first, and only time he had ever won in 25 years of competition.
That’s right. Coyne has been fielding teams in various racing series for a quarter of a century but had never actually won. Sure, he had come close a few times, taken a few poles and placed on the podium. But he had never before tasted victory.
Nor did he ever give up.
When you want something badly enough, you keep trying until you make it happen. Dale Coyne wanted to win an IndyCar race, and he wasn’t going to let the fact that his small team was regularly beaten by mega-bucks operations douse his competitive spirit.
Freelancers have a lot they can learn from his example. Now, I’m not recommending you hold out for 25 years until you find your dream job. However, I am telling you to keep trying, every single day, to find work that you enjoy doing and which pays you a living wage. No worthwhile career is ever constructed overnight, and building yourself as a writer will take a huge time investment. This foundation, built carefully and steadily, will set you up for later rewards that aren’t possible if you walk away out of frustration.
25 years is a long time to keep a dream alive. How long can you nurture your own dream until you turn your back on the life and career you long to make a reality?