The Richness of The Writer’s Life
as Measured in Tacos

I couldn’t have gotten Katie’s email asking me to write about my “Writer’s Life” at a better time. I was dog-tired. I smelled of used cooking oil. And my feet ached from being on them for seven hours.

Linda and I had just spent those hours frying 400 tortillas and stuffing them with homemade taco meat. That doesn’t include the time we’d spent cooking rice and beans over the previous two days. We did it to raise money so our small elementary school band could go on a cruise to Mexico.

Yes, I was exhausted when I got Katie’s email. Exhausted and exuberant …

And blessing my life as a copywriter.

You see, there’s no way I could have done this if I worked a regular nine-to-five job. There’s no way I could afford to take the time to do something I love to do (work for our community’s children) and still be able to afford to live the life I enjoy.

This little fundraiser – or the two days a week I spend tutoring kids in math – these are the reasons I’m thankful I discovered copywriting. These are the reasons I’m delighted with my Writer’s Life.

But it wasn’t always this way. Not by a long shot.

I was probably a lot like many newbie copywriters when I started out. After reading Bob Bly’s book Secrets of a Freelance Writer all I saw were dollar signs.

I wanted – and needed – to change my career after 25 years. And Linda and I needed to stay close to the standard of living we were used to. So Bob’s promise of earning $85,000 per year as a copywriter was a sweet promise. (Those were more than a few years ago and $85K seemed like a lot of money then).

So I went at it with a passion … but without some crucial insights in making my career switch work as seamlessly as I would have preferred.

Fortunately, I eventually learned those insights through my association with AWAI.

Today, I’d like to share with you the three most important pieces of counsel I wish I’d known way back then.

1. Decide your real goal early on …

Regardless of what attracted you in the first place about living The Writer’s Life, decide early on what you really want to get out of your new career.

Most newbies default to “the money.” I’ve heard it many times at Bootcamp and other places. But scratch a bit deeper, and most AWAI members say having a “flexible schedule” is the most important aspect for them.

That’s definitely number one on my list.

And, I can attest to the fact that The Writer’s Life gives you the freedom to choose what you do with your time. It allows you to pursue your passions to their most fulfilling extent.

Gardening? Politics? Auto racing? Travel? Writing poetry?

Trying something brand new you’ve always wanted to try? Or never even considered before?

Whatever it is, learning how to make money as a writer opens doors money alone cannot open … because money cannot buy time. But having money can free you to use your time for you.

2. Don’t lose sight of that real, ultimate goal

My biggest mistake starting out was not understanding what I really wanted. Since I thought it was just the money, when it didn’t pour in at first, I was sure I wasn’t very successful.

Soon, though, I realized I had much more control of my life than I’d ever had before. It wasn’t just a flexible schedule. I could also work when I wanted and where. I could now work during the wee hours of the morning if I wanted – a time when I’m often at my most creative. Or at the river or in the park.

I could now move where I wanted to. I left the hurry-scurry of a big city and settled for the gratifying life in a small, rural community. And the fresh air. And the safe streets. And … well you get the idea.

So even though the money wasn’t pouring in as fast as I’d imagined, my life was far more satisfying. I was doing something I loved – writing – and complementing it with other things I love as much.

That satisfaction – that ability to “let go” in some respects – freed me to be a better writer. An ultimately, it freed me to take more control of my financial future.

3. Don’t get discouraged

Truth be told, I came close to throwing in the towel several times in those early days. Simply because of this: I measured my success in dollars made and not in tacos cooked.

That all changed though when I was introduced to AWAI. Yes, they helped me become a better, more successful copywriter. But they also helped me learn what real success meant for me.

My advice to you? Look beyond the dollar signs and figure out what you’re really shooting for. Maybe it is the big bucks. That can happen. But, maybe it something else too … like travelling or having time to volunteer or dedicated to a hobby you love. Living the Writer’s Life – gives you that freedom.

What has the Writer’s Life given me?

I am far wealthier now than I have ever been in my entire life. I’m not just talking about money here. You know that. I’m talking about the joy I feel when I know our fifteen advanced band members will see places on their trip they’ve never seen before.

I’m talking about the richness of knowing that I can settle down and write this article for Katie, then do research for a new client, and finally write my COS blog when the time suits me best.

For me the richness of the Writer’s Life will always be measured in joy.

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

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Published: May 4, 2010

3 Responses to “The Richness of The Writer’s Life as Measured in Tacos”

  1. Great article, will. You and Linda are wonderful people. Wishing you many more taco-filled days!

    Donna Kaluzniak

  2. so helpful!!! I am so close to throwing in the towel, but THANK YOU!
    I will continue to forge ahead.

    Guest (Karen)

  3. I have decided to take part in the Circle of Success!! It's a big step, but I feel I'm ready to make the change.

    Carol Shier


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