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Writer Ideas
04th, October
The Hardest Thing about being a Freelance Writer

Find Your Voice

Driving ferraris and attending parties with goody bags full of diamonds are what freelancers are made for, but that’s not the realistic picture of how freelancers actually live. With the luxuries of working from home and setting your own schedule come the hurdles of sporadic work availability and the too frequent non-payments. Though my situation is a bit different where I actually juggle full-time work with side gigs, recently I’ve come across one of the greatest challenges freelance writers face… the constant shuffle of changing your voice.

From famous authors to popular editorial outlets, everyone has their unique style. That style is the underlying factor that sustains business—it’s recognizable and it relates to the audience interested in what that person or outlet has to say. For freelance writers, finding the balance between what your voice is and integrating the style of whatever publication you’re writing for—unless you’re a popular enough columnist who is given free reign—is an important and delicate feat to accomplish.

Personally…

  • For quite some time my writing was frank, with bits of snark
  • My writing took a sharp turn into the very exaggerative because that’s what was needed for the outlet I wrote for
  • When I switched to another company I toned down my voice to have a broader intonation
  • As my career expanded I’d write bookish and colloquial articles in the same day
  • I’ve learned casual can signify many different things to different publications
  • Today, there are moments I’m asked to completely adopt the voice of the outlet and abandon my own

Truthfully this is how a writer develops their own voice, but I will admit there have been a few moments I’ve lost what I thought my style was. There were times I struggled to meet the needs of the outlets I’m writing for while reassuring myself I’m still being represented.

But that’s okay!

Life is all about evolving, so I’m still learning who I am and what that means for my writing. I’ve realized I shouldn’t allow those types of circumstances question my own capabilities, instead I should meet the challenge head on and learn at least one lesson from the experience that I can use to advance my career. I hope other aspiring freelance writers (be they critics or storytellers) who happen upon this post do the same!

Though there are veteran writers available with more insight, what I can say confidently to new freelancers out there is to take a breath and embrace the edits. Don’t take them personally, grow from the experience!

That said, don’t feel afraid to challenge edits you feel hinder what you know your voice to be. A good editor will explain in greater detail why they feel their edit was necessary, or find a mutual compromise. That way everyone involved learns from the exchange.

See every opportunity like a chance to develop into a better writer.

Be sure to also take the time to write for YOU, even if it’s just in a private journal, so you can learn who you are. And don’t buy a ferrari, unless you want it to catch on fire.