Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Guest Blogger!

Check me out! Yesterday I was the Guest Blogger at The Urban Muse--my first (and hopefully not last!) guest post. I was thrilled to get the opportunity, since Susan's blog has such a wide readership. I've found her blog to be very helpful--I've gotten so much advice and insight. Thanks again for the opportunity, Susan!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Is working gratis a big no-no?

I recently got the green light from a market I pitched a few weeks ago. There's a quick turnaround (due July 3--eek!), so I'm trying to round everything up for the piece.

The one disappointment is that they can't afford to pay their writers. I think that most writers would've just said "Thanks but no thanks", but it's a topic that's close to my heart, and it's a new market for me, so part of me still wants to build up my byline....so I told her I'd do it regardless.

Before I get scolded too heavily, it's a short (600 word) piece, apparently it has a large readership, and, as I said, it's a new market with a new target audience ('tween and teen girls). So I feel a bit obligated to share a bit of what I know with these girls. Rest assured, this is definitely the exception rather than the rule. As my b.f. said "The water company doesn't work gratis"...touche. Luckily, I'm paid for 99% of the assignments I've been given, so I don't feel too horribly naive doing this piece gratis just this once.


Am I totally foolish to do any freelance work gratis?

Thursday, June 25, 2009

All the world's a stage

At our writer's group meeting on Saturday, playwright Bill Marley talked about the ins and outs of, um...playwriting...as well as offering a few helpful tips for fiction and writing in general.

Playwriting has always been an interest of mine (I'm open to most genres!), because I tend to include a lot of dialogue in my fiction, and I think writing good dialogue is one of my strong points. I wrote a very short play for a creative writing class I took a few years ago, and vowed to go back to it and tweak the script (of course, I haven't gotten there yet.)

Scheduling programming for the writer's group is really driving home the point that there are so many opportunities and possibilities for writers, it's absolutely staggering! Even with my own projects and whatnot, I have trouble keeping up with all of it sometimes. It's great to challenge myself and branch out into new areas, but it honestly makes my head spin when I see what companies and various markets are looking for.

Does diversifying help or hurt a writer's career? When is enough diversifying enough?

Friday, June 19, 2009

Brainstorm vs. Brain Drizzle

I've made some pretty big strides over the past few weeks/months. Though I haven't broken into the higher-paying markets, I've broken into some new markets, and right now, that's good enough for me. It's nice to break into a few new genres and have some new things to write about.

I hit a personal best as far as sending queries out over the past few months--probably about 20-25, which is a lot for me. Now I have to hunker down and do the work. Since I'm limited to the writing gigs part-time, it seems as though it takes me a lot longer to complete projects because I have a lot less time to work with. I have 2 pieces due by July 1, and another column to finish up. I've also proposed a regular column for the local paper about workplace issues and general business. It's funny how the ideas come to me--sometimes I can't keep up with them, other times it's a struggle to find anything worthwhile!

But I'm happy with the progress I've been making. I'm more encouraged than I was earlier this month!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

"Golden" Writing Words

from The Golden Girls:

Blanche: I have writer's block!

Dorothy: Well, how much have you written?

Blanche: Nothing. That's just it. I just sit there and stare at the blank page.

Dorothy: That's not writer's block, Blanche. You have to have written to have writer's block. Otherwise we all have it.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Market/Idea or Idea/Market?

Should freelancers find a market and then try to come up with an idea for it, or develop the idea first and then find a market?

I do both (with mixed results), and I think most freelancers would say the same.

Sometimes I'll learn about a new market and try to think of ideas to pitch. I'll browse through the website and see what kinds of articles they use, hoping it'll give me some inspiration. I was browsing through one publication that deals with Renaissance faires. They had an index of stories (LOVE those! We need more indexes, please!), and I saw that they ran stories about Childbirth, and another about Marriage...what seemed like the next logical step? Why, death, of course! Brilliant! Sure enough, I sent in a query and the editor wants a story.

Or I'll get this idea and try to adjust it to suit a market. Again, I'll browse through the site to see if they've done something similar, then I'll work on the query and hope for the best. I tend to think big and often have to scale my ideas waaay down--again, I have mixed results. I often make lists of ideas and possible markets for them--it helps me stay organized, and then I don't have to obsess about getting the query done before I forget my brilliant idea!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

10 Reasons Why I Love Freelancing

10. Learning more about things that interest me.

9. Connecting with other writers.

8. The interesting people I've met, whether through interviews or as resources for a piece I'm working on.

7. Being able to pitch stories about people, places, and events that I find interesting.

6. Expanding my knowledge about different writing styles.

5. Branching out into various markets.

4. The ongoing (often frustrating) challenge of waiting to get a response from an editor.

3. The various opportunities available to freelancers (features, copywriting, blogging, etc.)

2. Working with words and phrases until you get something to sound just the way you want it to sound.

1. It's a way to make some money doing what I love to do.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Wise Writing Words

Only amateurs say that they write for their own amusement. Writing is not an amusing occupation. It is a combination of ditch-digging, mountain-climbing, treadmill and childbirth. Writing may be interesting, absorbing, exhilarating, racking, relieving. But amusing? Never!
--Edna Ferber

Friday, June 5, 2009

Writing To-Do List

Yes, this is my actual writing to-do list for June:

  • July columns for Online Dating Magazine
  • "Re-writing History" article for WritersWeekly.com
  • "Tips to Survive a Job You Hate" for Young Money Magazine
  • "Planning a Green Reunion" for Reunions Magazine
  • Finish and submit 2 (hopefully 3) essays to 2 different publications
  • Finish BDWN's June newsletter
  • Develop BDWN member survey for conference
  • Develop and send 2 additional queries
  • Follow up on May queries
  • Start research for Renaissance article
  • Private Lives book review for CompulsiveReader.com


Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Simultaneous Submissions: To Send or Not to Send?

I've heard many opinions on this, and have yet to get a solid answer. Some writers send one query at a time, others send a few. My personal thought? It depends on where you're sending it.

I play by the rules with most things. I pay my bills on time, I haven't (severely) broken any traffic laws, I typically play well with others. But one thing I've discovered about myself is that I'm impatient! Especially if it's for something that I've set into motion, but I need to rely on someone else to give me the go-ahead (i.e. editors, hiring managers, etc.) If I have a story idea, I usually want to get the query written and sent right away--in my mind, I have to get to the editor first, before someone else pitches the same idea. Sometimes it pays off, sometimes not. Sometimes I get two good story ideas, so why should I wait to hear back on the first one if they might like the second one better? Doesn't it make sense to just send them both and cover all my bases?

I do sometimes send the story idea to two different publications. Again, most writers I know don't have the luxury of sitting around and waiting for the editor to make up their minds about using the piece. Perhaps the other guy will have a quicker turnaround and get back to me first. Of course, both could reject it, but in that case, find a third market, retool the query if need be, and send it out again.

I'm trying to find the fine line between patience and persistence. It's a fine one, I can assure you. Typically I give editors about a month before I start to bug them.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Is Anybody Out There?

OK. I'm officially annoyed. I've been churning out and sending more queries than I think I ever have, and most of them have been met with a big fat nothing. Zero. Zilch. Nada. A rejection is one thing, but no response is something else entirely! Where are these editors? I respect that most of the industry's in the toilet and there are cutbacks galore, but come on! There must be some need for some of this stuff! I think I've actually been pitching some pretty interesting stuff, but nope! Silence. In fact, other than my weekly column, the occasional book review, and three other articles, I have nothing lined up for the summer. BLAH! I feel like such a failure. But in my own defense, I'm sending out not only queries but emails of interest for trivia books, anthology submissions, essays...so I can't say I'm not trying. It's just beyond frustrating!