Friday, July 10, 2009

I Write What I Want To Know

BeckyJoie over at Rather Be Writing is having a very interesting discussion on How To Make A Living As A Freelance Writer. She has also posted a YouTube video by Laura Turner, who is also giving tips on the same subject.

I did post a comment on Becky's blog, but I also felt like saying something more detailed on my blog.

And what I wanted to say was, I have found that I write pieces that please editors more, when I write what I want to know. This does not apply to writing articles only, but to different types of writing.

I know this is not original advice either, but it is worth repeating: write on subjects that fascinate you, which you're happy to spend hours researching and writing about.

Here are some of the reasons this approach will make your writing easier:

1. Write more easily - The more interested you are, the more you will have something to say and the words will flow more easily. The added passion will make a piece that could have simply complied with editorial guidelines stand out more, attracting editors and readers alike.

2. The regular grind- And if you're in the writing business for the long haul, you're probably going to end up writing thousands, maybe even hundreds of thousands of words on your subjects.

3. The info is fresh to you - You're going to need to find fresh angles on topics other writers have probably explored already, and generate content ( whether it be articles, fiction, books, plays etc) on a regular basis.

It helps if you are also learning new things to share, because you will be able to present the info with the excitement that you feel.

4. When you're sick of your own words - For longer works, it helps to remember the passion you used to feel for the subject when you're just sick of editing and polishing the piece one more time.

The fine print ( aka it's not easy to find writing work on subjects I want to know about)

1. Make time to find work on subjects that interest you - Sometimes it won't be possible to write about what interests you/what you want to know. It may be that you have to take every assignment you can get, and the client brief leaves no room for you to infuse the work with your own personality.

If that's the case, make a conscious effort to grow the portion of your writing on subjects you want to know about. Set aside some time to look It could be an hour, 30 minutes, even 10 minutes where you look for these opportunities. Tell people in your circle that you are looking for these kinds of opportunities and ask them to send you links to interesting opportunities.

2. Find the needle in the haystack - Look for themes that resonate with you in subjects you have to cover but never knew could be of interest to you.

Once you find that thread, latch into it, because that could be the point where you gain a new area of interest.

3. Be open to possibilities outside your current experiences - Try new things, even if they don't seem to be what you want to know at the beginning, or even if they sound too scary.

4. Listen to your inner voice - Don't always go with conventional wisdom if it does not fit in with your vision.

When I left my journalism job, conventional wisdom argued that I should find a cushy job in a communications department of a corporate or government. This was especially wise advice considering that we were on the verge of a recession. Instead, I chose to write for a small privately-owned comms company, working from home. That has turned out to be a very successful career move, for me.


Ms Lona Lee Hart said...

Hey, D, thanks for this advice. Reading it has been valuable for me and has given me inspiration to do more writing in wider areas. I have the luxury of writing what I want because of my day job, but my dream is to be a full-time writer and your wisdom and experience has helped me. Thank you!

Tamara said...

Good advice, Damaria. I'll take any I can get - I'm trying to build my portfolio of clients so that I can go full-time freelance and give up the (soul-destroying)morning PR job. It will take time, but I am keeping my goal firmly in sight!

Damaria Senne said...

@Ms Lona-Lee - you're welcome. I also learn a lot from you, so it's a fair exchange.
@Tamara- Good luck with building portfolio of clients. And I hope that you will find other writing-related stuff we talk about here useful.

BeckyJoie said...

Great Advice, D! Writers need a balance of consistency of topic and flexibility of will to write for the call.

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