Stage Three: Start-Up

If you’ve done the previous stages of exploration and preparation in “The Five Stages of Success,” then you’re probably eager to begin “Stage Three: Start-Up.”

Time to get the show on the road!

You have your writing dream, you’ve made the decision, and you’ve taken some steps to turn that dream into reality. I found “starting up” to be both the most exciting and the most frightening stage.

Deal With the Fears

Why should this stage–which is full of so much anticipation–be scary? Some of it has to do with money and security. By the time I hit this stage, we had another child and a need for more income. Writing for magazines wasn’t going to cut it–I wasn’t bringing in enough money.

I could go back to teaching elementary school–that had been the plan when the babies started arriving. There was pressure to do so–to “get a real job.” And some of that pressure was from me. It’s so much easier to rely on a steady paycheck than face freelance unknowns.

Leap of Faith

If money is an issue in your family, there is a mental mind shift you will need to make. As an employee, you receive a predictable paycheck from a company. If you want to be a freelance writer, you need to create your income. No money arrives on Friday just because you showed up at your desk and put in the time working. You have to create the opportunities to work, do the work, and sell the work to the publisher. This reality can be daunting.

On the other hand, as a freelance writer every day brings the possibility of new ideas, new choices, and earning potential beyond what you are probably imagining. I know that in later years I used to be in awe that I got paid well to do something I loved to do anyway (stay home and make up stories). It wouldn’t have happened if I’d gone back to teaching public school–not with raising kids and dealing with the health issues I had. Creativity takes some solitude and considerable energy–and there wouldn’t have been enough.

Biting the Bullet

Yes, when you start out, you feel like a newbie, the new kid on the block, wet behind the ears–all those cliches. And you may be living on a shoestring for a while. This is probably where your desire truly gets put to the test: how badly do you really want this writing life?

If you still want it, get on a writing schedule. Arrange what you can for an office. Get what equipment you can afford, and stock up on supplies. And take time to celebrate each successful step you take!

If you want the life of a writer, it’s time to get started. [And come back Friday for "Stage Four: Survival and Growth."']

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