Writing in the 21st Century

business writing coach This is the most exciting time ever to be a writer.

Not only that, but it’s the best time ever to be a professional writer. The technologies and culture of the 21st century make it so.




Though Scott Turow might disagree, he’s dead wrong. So is every writer who thinks the craft is just about sitting in a garret churning out the occasional literary novel. Here are just three of my favorite examples of how people are getting their work out there — and pulling in reasonable income — by writing in this brave new literary world. These are all creative efforts, not the kind of business writing I coach about and feed my family with.

Turning Tricks

Not what it sounds like. Turning Tricks is a web series…basically an independent TV show distributed on YouTube and similar channels. The idea is to either make money off ad revenue, or to attract the attention of a major provider.

They’re on episode 3 of their first season, so traction is only just beginning to build. We’ll see what happens…but others have already proven the model, whether they use it to make an actual living, or just make the hobby pay for itself.

See Also: Ask a Ninja, Ray William Johnson’s =3

Monster Hunters International

Okay, fine. MHI is now carried by the traditional publisher Baen Books and selling like hotcakes. But writer Larry Correia didn’t get there the usual way.

Mr. Correia is a big, Texan man with a big, Texan gun collection. He wrote a book about killing zombies and loving guns. He shopped that book around. When no agents or publishers were interested, he self-published that bad boy. Hundreds of thousands of sales later, those same agents and publishers couldn’t buy enough love for the series.

Correia continues to promote his series well by embracing 21st-century techniques including social media, podcasting and an authorized role-playing-game based on his world.

See Also: Mike Michalowicz, Jennifer L. Armentrout

Lunch Hour Love Stories

Publishers (other than fiction magazines) have never embraced the short story. The best short fiction writers could hope for would be inclusion in a successful anthology, or to sell a collection of shorts after their novels became successful.

Lunch Hour Love Stories  destroys that misconception. Famous and up-and-coming romance writers are dropping short stories on there for $1.99 or so…and making tens of thousands of dollars a day in the first few weeks. Turns out, once you remove the (legitimate) obstacles associated with a print run, short fiction is way profitable.

The smartest contributors to LHLS are writing short stories connected to their existing novels, creating relationship sales and a positive feedback loop of readers and income.

See Also:  Pseudopod


The moral of this story is simple. The money’s out there for all kinds of writers, whether you write for yourself or for somebody else. The only real questions are these…

  1. Do you have the courage to embrace the changes that have happened to the writing market in our lifetime?
  2. Do you want to write for a living so much that you are willing to become an expert at one or more of these new opportunities?

If your answer is “yes” you have a great writing future ahead of you. If your answer is “no” I wish you luck in whatever career you end up in.

If your answer is “maybe” shoot me a line. I can help you figure out how to make it all happen.




The Incredible Importance of Hammock Time

What does your work day look like at 1:15 pm?  Here’s what it could look like if you were a freelance writer.

Freelance writing jobs

At 1:12 pm, the BabyBoy came up and said “Daddy! It’s hammock time!” Because that wasn’t a phone call into my office at a regular job-type-job I got to say “Darn straight it’s hammock time!”

I love my hammock time, and so do all the other freelancers I know. For some, “hammock time” is working in the garden. For others, it’s having time to hit the gym or go climb a rock. However you choose to celebrate your control over how you spend your days, it’s one of the best parts of the freelance writing life. It’s also important to succeeding as a freelancer. Here’s why.

1. Connecting With Freelance Mission

Freelance writing jobs are hard. You have to take responsibility for so many things, with nobody there to guide you when you don’t know what to do next. Your hammock time puts you with the reasons you take on that extra work and worry. It helps you power through when the job gets tough.

2. Sharpening the Saw

Hammock time regenerates you as efficiently as a good night’s sleep. By building some slack into your schedule and taking time to pause and reflect, you make yourself a better freelance writer. That means becoming more efficient and profitable…which means more hammock time.

3. Tapping Your Freelance Writing Pencil

A mentor of mine, Dave Kovar, advises to take minutes each day to “tap your pencil” — to make time for letting your mind wander. It’s the best prescription I’ve seen for solving complex problems, imagining plot lines, and finding new opportunities to grow your business and as a person. Hammock time creates occupies your thinking brain with one activity while freeing the rest of your mind to tap that pencil.

What’s your hammock time? Besides actually spending time in a hammock, mine includes practicing martial arts, travel and playing table-top games. Sound off in the comments.