Freelancing and Fiction – Are They Compatible?

A funny thing happens when I tell people I’m a writer: I’m asked if I write fiction or nonfiction. It’s as though the general consensus is that fiction and nonfiction writing are mutually exclusive, when, as any writer will tell you, they are not.

This phenomenon gets even weirder when I tell them that I write books as well as content marketing material for clients. The fact that a person can freelance and write books at the same time seems to boggle the minds of many people.

So what about it? Do freelancing and fiction go hand in hand? Are they compatible? Or should you keep them apart?

As most of you know, this blog is dedicated to readers who, primarily, are freelancers looking for tips, to read about the lifestyle, to meet others who do the same work, and to follow my journey into the world of freelancing. But I can’t talk about freelancing without occasionally bringing up fiction, just like I can’t talk about my fiction (and non-fiction) “book writing” without bringing up freelancing.

The reason for this is because the two truly do go hand in hand. I learn a lot about many different topics as a freelance writer, and I also learn about keeping to a deadline, finding ways to write when I’m not inspired, and how to be a better and more efficient researcher. Freelancing also helps me keep up to date on the world of SEO and search, which helps when you go to publish your books on places like the Kindle, since Amazon relies heavily on relevancy and search engines.

I take what I learn in freelancing and I funnel it into my fiction and “book writing” life, and it helps me immensely. Similarly, I take what I’ve learned in my fiction writing life – how to write poetically, how to craft a story, how to develop a narrative instead of just listing facts – and channel that into my freelance life. This makes me a better freelancer, because my work is less dry and more engaging than perhaps some other freelancers who aren’t as experienced in crafting narrative and write like they’re composing text for an encyclopedia. (I don’t mean that condescendingly, it’s just a fact that some people do write this way, and most of them will freely admit it.)

My point here is that you should never let someone tell you that you have to choose between writing for passion and writing for profit. In both freelancing and fiction, I do both. Freelancing funds my “book writing”, and book writing helps me when I go to land freelancing jobs.

If anything, writing in both areas makes me a stronger writer – both a stronger freelancer, and a stronger story teller – not a weaker one.

What are your thoughts on this?

And, for a moment of shameless self-promotion, you can see a work of fiction right here: “The Magician”. It’s the first book in my fiction epic fantasy series “The Rogue Portal”, and since the second book is coming out sometime this month, I thought it would be a good opportunity to share the first book with you. 🙂


3 Comments Add yours

  1. storydivamg says:

    Yesterday at a Chamber of Commerce event a fellow business person asked me if I ever write fiction. I don’t currently hock my fiction prose or my poetry, as I have been working hard over the past year to get my web content company off the ground, but, yes, I write a lot of purely creative works. I don’t know that they go hand-in-hand with my non-fiction marketing and web content though. In fact, I was a bit embarrassed to share with a person from my business networking circle that I write vampire fiction. Will that CPA feel comfortable approaching me to write his LinkedIn profile, his blog posts or his business website if he knows this about me?

    I suppose that advertising one’s fiction ventures would work better for those who contract with content mills and large ghost-writing services. In those venues, you are working under a certain amount of anonymity. But my name and face are inextricably linked to Complete Picture Content, LLC. If I’m pitching to a plumber, general contractor, home builder or financial adviser, I need them to trust me as a professional non-fiction writer. Once I make them happy with great customer service as a ghost writer, then maybe I can have a casual conversation about poetry and vampire fiction. But I don’t really think it’s appropriate to include those ventures in my original pitch. The many types of writing I do are a part of my portfolio, but they are by no means inextricably linked.

    1. courtneyherz says:

      Interesting story. I’m not suggesting you blatantly advertise your fiction to your nonfiction clientele. I don’t. But I’m certainly not ashamed to write both, nor do I think anyone else should be. If someone is going to think I can’t write both, I really don’t want them as a client. That’s just silly. If they happen to find out I write fiction, cool. But most of the time your nonfiction clientele and fiction client won’t be the same. My point in writing this post was that there’s no reason you can’t be both, and I think that’s still true. 🙂

      1. storydivamg says:

        Yes, I will agree to that. Although I also have to face the fact that it can be difficult to switch gears. I wrote a magical realism piece set in the inner city a couple years ago during a time when I was writing a lot of web pages for doctors. The plot was great, but I had to totally rewrite my earliest drafts because the tone sounded stilted. Switching back and forth has gotten easier as I’ve done it more often, but I still have to set specific times for writing the fun stuff so I won’t cross lines that just don’t need to be crossed.


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