For the few weeks before and during the holidays, work is often feast or famine for a freelancer. In my particular case this year, with one client, it was definitely feast. Problem was, the feast was more like a 20-course meal, and he did not want to let anyone leave the table. He hit everyone…
Give Your Writer Resources: Article Six
While a grammatically perfect and readable story should be a top priority for every writer, a truly finished product needs much more. I call that “much more” the qualities that place your unique mark on the pages…the fingerprint that identifies your work to your writer within. Initially as readers, we are drawn to writers such as Stephen King and Dean Koontz because they write horror, or we gravitate to John Cheever or Alice Munro because we like short stories. But in the end, why do we stay with them and continue to buy their books and be loyal readers? It is most likely because we enjoy their style of writing.
Give Your Writer Resources: Article Five
Markets are the places available for you to publish what you write. If you are not writing with the intent of publication, then this column will not be for you. When you write for your enjoyment only, you need not worry about the submission process. However, if you want to share what you create with others, then you’ll need to understand the many places available to showcase your stories.
Years ago the task of finding a good fit for your work was tedious, expensive, and oftentimes hit or miss. Writers mainly sought out book and magazine publishing houses to print their fiction and nonfiction. University and special interest presses were other possible sources. A writer needed to send off for guidelines and/or sample copies for each place he/she intended to submit a story, supplying a SASE (self-addressed stamped envelope). A sample copy added more expenses…and all of this was before the manuscript was submitted. It took weeks…sometimes months to receive that information.
As I prepare for the holidays, it makes me reflect on how freelancing has a major impact on my life. Sure, I can take a month off to go backpacking through Europe or go sailing from one coast to the other if I want. I can be a night owl or an early bird, split shifts, take very long lunches and other fun perks.
But there are some significant downsides to working for yourself, too. Freelancing isn’t the glamorous life that some people imagine it to be. If you are thinking about ditching your boring but stable office job and throwing yourself into freelancing as a career, there are a few things you need to consider first.
“Write every day. Sit thy butt in a chair and write. Don’t talk about writing, just do it, kind of like the Nike slogan.” This was my advice to writers until recently. See, it is hard to tell people how to finish a work in progress when you are not writing. These tips stopped working for me well over a year ago. This isn’t the first time I’ve written about my creativity running dry. Each time I was sure I’d found my momentum again and hit the road at a full run, I was disappointed by my ideas draining, leaving me empty and sure I’d lost any talent I possibly had.
Then a sudden move presented itself to our family. I was determined to keep following my own advice, no matter what I would tap into the keyboard, while I packed up our house of fourteen years. My agent laughed when I told her my plan. “You won’t write a word for a month or two. Face this. Relax.”
The other night, I was lying in bed, ruminating on what I might write for my next posting. As I began to drift off to sleep, I thought about my husband’s hair and how it was a metaphor for the manuscript revision process. No, I wasn’t just floating in that place between consciousness and unconsciousness–let me explain.
Over the course of our marriage, my husband has had a long and arduous struggle with his hair. When I first met him, his hair was a light brown color and fell almost to his shoulders. Even though it didn’t have a lot of style, it was one of the things I really liked about him.
Give Your Writer Resources: Article Four
Fiction isn’t true. The subject matter might be real and the people may have lived, but once you begin adding made-up events and situations, your story becomes fiction. To begin your collection of fiction resources, like with nonfiction, you’ll want to have a general “How to Write Fiction” book and/or website. These resources should provide a clear definition of exactly what constitutes fiction writing. They should also include a list of and an introduction to these three components of fiction: forms, elements, and subgenres.
So, let’s have a frank discussion on sales. Not to force every writer into a stereotype (I’m certainly not stereotypical), but most writers I know are not social creatures. Now, they may socialize on Twitter or Facebook. But, I know few writers who are out there getting in front of strangers and trying to find work as a writer. Which is why it’s so hard for writers to find work. Especially paying work. I mean, like great paying work ($5 on ODesk for a short article is not good money—think $500 for a one-page success story). What you need as a writer is to have a steady income you can live off of–to learn how to sell. Continue reading
Give Your Writer Resources: Article Three
You have an idea. You’ve researched information to plump out that idea, and now you feel you have a solid foundation on which to create a story. The next step is to decide how you want to showcase that story. In what form do you want your audience to read your work? You basically have two choices: fiction or nonfiction. Then you have a multitude of choices: all the subgenres of fiction and nonfiction. Before you begin, you need to have a form in mind, and you’ll need to add resources about these forms to your library. Because of the number of subgenre choices for nonfiction and fiction, I will focus on nonfiction in this month’s column. Nonfiction resources fall into three categories: general how-to-write nonfiction, how-to-write-specific subgenres, and books written by authors in that particular subgenre.
Recently, a friend of mine was up for a very prestigious job through a recruiter at a telecommunications company. He had all the right qualifications, a friendly demeanor, and was a shoe-in for the job. Everything was going well until the recruiter asked him about salary expectations.
At this point my friend unfortunately shot himself in the foot, figuratively speaking. He had a specific salary in mind, and that was all he would accept. It didn’t matter how excellent the benefits were, that he could telecommute two days a week, or that he got three weeks paid vacation a year. No, this was how much money he wanted, and that was the end of the story.