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Danielle asks: How idealistic is it to begin a whole new career in writing or editing, without an inkling of experience or schooling in either field? I have always been passionate about writing, and I put away about three books a week. I have been the recipient of grants written, and I write essays and reviews of books and music with friends; but professionally, I have absolutely no experience. I simply want a change; one that more reflects my talents in writing, reviewing, or in the arts. Crazy?
People change careers frequently so it's not an idealistic thought. Here are some general things to think about. If you want/need a steady income from writing, then you have to make a transition into the writing field over time, even a few years. Writing is talent plus experience with talent being the number one consideration. There are useful skills like interviewing techniques, researching, proofreading that you should develop. Editing is a bit more complex and demanding because as an editor you are making crucial decisions about a publication. Editors certainly emerge from the writing ranks but it's a process that you wouldn't be able to leap into right away.
There are several things you can do. One is to review all your transferable skills from your present occupation and any other jobs you've had. These include research skills, tackling complex tasks, working well in teams, communications skills and the like.
The next thing to do is to write and write and write. Offer to write for school newsletters or association publications. Submit writings to local publications that publish the type of material you write. Make contacts with editors. Talk with them. In other words, get some credits, some clips under your belt. You also want to begin formulating where jobs exists in the area of your interest. All large newspapers have reviewers. Newspapers also have internships which are a very useful way to transition into a new profession. To look for internships try these sites:
When you can state to yourself, "I want to be a book reviewer," for instance, then you have a better chance in defining the steps you need to reach to get there.
Make the profession your own, personalize it so that everything happening in the writing and publishing world counts for you and interests you. Get as involved in it as you can. That will lead to a lot of good contacts and ideas about how to take your writing talent and apply it where you can be paid and, even, make a livelihood.
Develop both a passion and patience for a writing career; both are needed.
Try to test the waters as soon as possible by offering pieces of your writing to the market. Don't take any rejection personally and keep on your path.
Before you know it, you will be writing professionally!
Good luck in your endeavors!
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