Write Now with Carol Tice

How a former songwriter makes six-figures freelancing

Write Now with Carol Tice
Photo courtesy of Carol Tice.

Carol Tice, freelance writer since about 1990, with 12 years in the middle as a staff writer. I’ve been a six-figure earner since 2011, and for many years was the sole support of a family of 5. All from writing.

I started the Make a Living Writing blog in 2008, which has won many awards, including multiple appearances in Writer’s Digest’s 101 Best Websites for Writers, and has 1000+ posts. I started the Freelance Writers Den membership learning & support community in 2011, and it now has over 1,000 members.

I grew up in L.A. but have lived in the Seattle area for 20+ years now. Best city in America!

What Do You Write?

I began writing for the alternative press, about community issues and controversies, doing book reviews. I broke in through winning an essay contest one alt paper held, and then another one at the Los Angeles Times’ real estate section. I was a songwriter, before that. Basically, it’s good that writing worked out, because it’s really my only marketable skill. I’m an increasingly proud college dropout — no degrees or ‘credentials.’

Nowadays, I write for clients a bit — in franchising, finance, legal, and other niches — but mostly write content to help writers earn more. Helping writers earn more is better than butter! And I love the puzzle of solving clients’ content challenges and helping them build their businesses. I also write for publications, including Delta Sky, Forbes, Entrepreneur, and many more.

Where Do You Write?

Maybe I’m weird — but I bought a 5-bedroom house, and still don’t have an ‘office’. I float around with my MacBook pro and portable fold-up lap desk, in the living room, the TV room, my bedroom, the patio table in good weather…wherever. Or go out to coworking or a park with pen and paper. I like to keep changing it up.

When Do You Write?

Since I have two teens at home, I tend to keep regular business hours that revolve around when they’re at school and sports practices — I’m at work somewhere 7:30–9:30 am, and try to knock off before dinner and avoid working at night (except Tuesdays, when I can write while waiting for my daughter at Hebrew school). Currently trying to kick my bad habit of also working some on Sunday afternoons! I am always offline from Friday sunset until Sunday morning.

Most of my deadlines are self-imposed right now. For client deadlines, I usually try to back it up a day, and block out a full 8-hour day for writing a new-client project. For my blog, I try to write a first draft of a typical shorter post (800–1200 words) in a single session. I tend to not even want to get up to pee until the draft is done! I don’t have daily word count goals or anything like that… just trying to get all the things I need done accomplished. It might be writing marketing emails about a new course I’m doing, or an article for Washington Superlawyers. Or the 5000-word post I just did, that was an ultimate guide to getting started as a freelance writer.

Why Do You Write?

Wow. I’ve been writing nearly every day since I was 14, who can remember? I began with song lyrics. They just… had to come out. Then, when I discovered journalism, it was the same, I just wanted to get more assignments. Then I discovered blogging… and the rest is history. For several years, I mostly wrote 5-day-a-week posts, by myself. I love blogging and that ability to get out a single idea in a post, quickly, with you owning the publish button. I still love it! I think of myself as running an online magazine for writers, not a blog. Everything should be magazine quality.

How Do You Overcome Writer’s Block?

As someone who had to file 3-4 stories a week to keep my staff writing jobs for 12 years, at an earlier point in my career, I don’t know what writer’s block is. I know how to put my head down and deliver, whether I was up all night with an adopted toddler, or I’m upset about something, or whatever. I believe writer’s block is you choosing to not be a writer. Writers have a discipline of writing a lot, as I discuss here.

Mostly, I feel driven to write. Compelled. I don’t have to drag myself to the keyboard, I have to drag myself away from it. I have a lot of exercises, tricks, and approaches I take if I feel stuck, to get rolling — collaborated on a short, $1 ebook about that, if you need tips.

Bonus: What Do You Enjoy Doing When Not Writing?

I bought a house on a lake, so biking the trail around it with my family, and in summer, jumping in the lake for a swim. I play Mah Jongg, chant Torah for my synagogue on Saturday now and then. Feed the homeless. Try to get immigrants out of detention. Do things that help improve the world.

Justin Cox Justin Cox

Justin Cox is a donut-loving, word-writing, nonprofit consultant based in Orlando. He also runs The Writing Cooperative on Medium. Come say hello!