Editor’s Note: This post was written by nDash community member Michelle Rivera McCracken. To learn more about Michelle — and to have her write for your brand — be sure to check out her nDash profile page.
In the 6th grade I entered a writing contest at my middle school. It was open to all of the grade levels: 6th, 7th, and 8th grade. I was so excited about entering the contest, but I knew as one of the youngest participants at my school that the competition wouldn’t be easy.
I had my mother buy me a hard-covered book that was blank both on the inside and on the outside of it. I was convinced that my writing had to be created within that book and not just on some blank pieces of loose leaf paper. I wanted my writing to look professional, or at least what I believed to be professional in my 12 year-old mind.
Within those empty pages I created a book of original poetry. I also accompanied my poetry with illustrations that I had drawn to match each individual poem. Then I created the front cover of my book as well. I wanted the front cover to be magical and so I drew a picture of a unicorn with a big rainbow cascading behind it. This completed my book of poetry, and I was very proud of it.
The day our school Principal announced the winners of the writing contest I was so nervous. She said there would be a 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winner along with one honorable mention. She continued by saying that there were many entries for the contest and that everyone should be proud of themselves for their hard work. Then the time came for her to announce the winners.
She announced the 3rd place winner and it was not me. Then she went on to announce the 2nd place winner, and once again it was still not me. Finally the 1st place winner was going to be announced. I attentively waited for who it was. The Principal finally said the name of the person who had taken the top prize, and wild applause broke out inside of the auditorium. That 1st place winner was not me.
I clapped along with everyone else in the auditorium because I didn’t want to be a sore loser, but in that moment I was heartbroken. Then the Principal came out and said that she still needed to announce the person who had received the honorable mention award. The audience got silent again and the room became still with anticipation.
That’s when the Principal announced who had received honorable mention, and this time it was me. The audience broke out in applause again, and I walked to the stage somewhat in a haze of disbelief. As the Principal handed me my book with a big blue ribbon on it that said, ‘Honorable Mention,’ I soon realized that I was the only 6th grader standing on that stage. A great sense of pride came over, along with a calling.
While growing up, writing was simply something that I enjoyed doing. I was always the girl who thrived when I was given a book report, a term paper, or any other written assignment for that matter. I was also the girl who kept a personal journal, who enjoyed writing poetry for fun, and who eventually got into songwriting, because I had an added passion for singing. No matter where my journey in life took me, writing was always a part of it somehow.
It seemed natural to me that when I entered college that I major in English Education with an emphasis on Creative Writing. So this is what I received my Bachelor of Arts degree in. Eventually, I also became interested in Journalism and so it felt like another natural step to further my studies, receiving a second degree, but this time in Broadcast Journalism.
I spent a few years working in Broadcast Journalism and during those years I found myself writing a lot of scripts for television. I enjoyed it, but it was very demanding, and once I became a mother, I no longer wanted to work so many hours, many of those during nights and weekends. So I eventually quit my position and became a stay-at-home mom.
After a year at home with my daughter, I realized that I did miss the creative process of writing. It was then that I decided to launch my own entertainment blog. To my surprise my blog took off, and before I knew it I had major brands like Disney, HBO, PBS, Fisher-Price, Universal Pictures, Costco, and so many others, inviting me to do paid posts and campaigns for them on my blog. I have now been running my blog for 11 years and it has been an amazing experience.
During my journey with my blog, I began to realize that I could parlay my writing experience beyond just doing sponsored posts for brands. I realized that I could also freelance write for them to help them create more content for their own company websites as well. This pivot proved to be a lucrative decision for me and that is when freelance writing became a very real career path for me.
I have continued to stay on as a freelance writer because both the pay and the flexibility of it have served me well. At this point I could never imagine going back into the typical grind of a nine to five position. Part of the joy of freelance writing is working at your own pace during whatever hours you would like. As long as you meet your deadlines, then the process of being a freelance writer is quite liberating. This is the reason why I won’t leave this career path behind.
I would also like to add that to become a freelance writer you do not need to hold any degrees in writing like I do. That was just my personal journey. If you are a natural born writer, who writes well, and if you can provide some examples of your work and/or pitch great writing ideas, then freelance writing is an excellent career to get into and I highly recommend giving it a try.