What the public believes is that you cannot survive on the income you make as a writer. What I believe is that as long as there is a possibility of getting an income through writing, then anything is possible. The experience of the public does not have to be my experience; and same goes for you.
Ever since I started working, writing is the only thing I know I am good at, and that skill is what has gotten me employment in the few places I have worked. So what about you?
Are you unemployed and wondering when an employment letter will be addressed to you? Or, are you looking for an extra source of income? Do you love reading and writing and wondering what your prospects are in the job market? Once you have the right skills, the opportunities open to a writer are endless. These skills include:
· Excellent writing skills
· Good grammar
· Good reading skills
· Good comprehension of the English language
As a writer, you want to ensure that what you have written can be understood by anyone who reads your work. You must master your punctuation, tenses, parts of speech and have knowledge of some figures of speech. If you have a pass mark on these, you are free to dream of a career in writing.
Many writers have the big dream of being discovered, followed by the release of their best seller books. While some new writers get wonderful breaks that change their lives forever, that kind of break comes once in a while, so for you the writer waiting to publish that book, this is how to break out of the unemployment zone for your bills to be paid using your writing skills.
1. Freelance: you can work as a freelance at a newspaper house and get paid per publication. You can also look for organisations who will value this writing skill. A school for instance, might need help with their periodical school publication. A firm might welcome this skill for their newsletters. Etc. At the beginning of my career as a writer, I used to contribute short stories to The Sun Newspaper on Wednesday, in their art section. Back then (over a decade ago) I received N1, 500 weekly, which I picked up once in three or four months. It was good money and an additional income because I was fully employed elsewhere.
2. You can work as a journalist also: For this though, you require training in school. Even if you have a degree, that will not automatically make you qualified to become a journalist if you cannot write. People with good writing skills can easily learn to become journalists. I went into journalism because of my love for writing. This door was opened for me by Sammy ‘Sage’ Hasson, the spoken word artist. He convinced me when he said Thrills & Booms (like those Mills & Booms novels), which used to be published by the owners of Hints Magazine back in the days (I feel old) will pay me if they publish my work. And who wouldn’t jump at money? They published my work, paid me and I asked to be employed and moths later, I was. So apart from getting a salary for my services, I also got paid extra, whenever my novellas got published.
3. A ghost writer: a ghost writer is someone who is commissioned by another person or an organisation to write a work, which will not carry the name of the writer. For you to succeed at this, you constantly have to come up with ideas you want to write on which will be of benefit to a particular set of people. Once you identify these set, you shop for sponsors who are willing to pay your fee and take the credit. The only thing against ghost writing is that you can never take credit for the work since you have been paid for it, and cannot talk about it either, unless someday, the person who paid you decides otherwise. I was recently going through a work on my system and was asking myself why I haven’t published it. I soon came across a part that immediately reminded me I was paid to write it so it isn’t mine.
4. Biographer: you can write biographies of personalities. For success, be sure to pick a personality people will be interested to read about. Be sure to do adequate research on what writing biographies entails. One hindrance might be the ability to sell your plan to a publisher. An alternative is to get the personality to commission you to ghost write the biography.
5. Private English teacher: teaching is a very decent profession and will certainly suit someone who loves to write and read and has a wonderful comprehension of the English language. Being one of the compulsory subjects needed for candidates to gain admission into Nigerian universities, this is one job opportunity that should be taken seriously as students can easily be gotten.
6. Publish an eBook: since you cannot find a publisher and you do not want to self-publish, or you cannot afford to, consider publishing your work as an eBook. If it is so good and sells enough, a publisher might decide to give you a contract. All the information you need to know about publishing eBooks can be gotten on the internet. In Nigeria, there is an app called Okada Books for smart phones that sells eBooks. As a writer, if you have a good work uploaded on Okada Books and price it low, you can go about publicizing it on social media to get the attention of readers. But, note this: if you don’t impress the reader, chances are that reader will not bother with your work next time, so be sure to have a good work.
7. Write a script: If you are like me, then you want to see Nollywood movies with better story lines. I have heard – I have not tried and I do not know for sure – that to get your scripts into the hands of a producer is not child’s play and that some story ideas get stolen. But again, excuses can hinder the reality of one’s dream. There is always a way out right? Also, writing a script for production is different from writing a novel, or a play. So, if you want to go this route, be sure to learn the steps to follow. And to feel safer, you can always patent the work in your name before taking it anywhere.
So, the opportunities are endless for a good writer. Stop wondering when that job will come and pick one of these options. Also, equip yourself with more skills. There are free courses on writing, literature and journalism on the internet such as Coursera, EDX etc. Take as much as you can. In the meantime, read, read and read. Read wide also and do not limit yourself to reading works just from a particular region. Read across genres, fiction and non-fiction. This helps to develop your writing skills, educate you amongst other benefits. And, keep writing. The more you write, the better you become. For a start, write short stories, articles, poems etc. and share among your friends and ask them for feedback. Next, start sending out your work without asking for anything in return. This will motivate you, especially if your work gets published in a national daily – it means the editor finds it good enough. Even when you don’t feel like writing or have no idea of what to write, just write; even though what come out are jargons.
If you think you love to write and just cannot find the time for it, create it. Start by giving one hour a day to writing at a time you are sure you wouldn’t be disturbed.
Finally, keep researching. The internet is full of helpful tips that can enhance your writing. Also, look out for writing competitions you can enter. Make friends with writers also and share ideas. Join a group like the Association of Nigerian Authors, ANA, if creative writing is your forte.
Remember, all you need to get started is a laptop. Don’t have one? Use a pen and paper; seriously. Then you can type at a business centre and save on a dependable USB device. If you cannot afford the cost of typing, keep writing. Someday you will be able to afford it, or your passion will drive you to find a way. No matter what, make no excuses. Write.
Good luck writing and making money from it.
If you need additional information on developing your writing, well, ask me.