Wednesday, December 29, 2010

My Game Changer: The Well-Fed Writer

On Monday I made a quiet announcement about the launch of my new copywriting venture, Fresh Ink Writing Services. It’s a bit of a departure from my normal feature writing, but the more I learned about commercial copywriting, it made perfect sense.

So I felt it would be appropriate to give a little review/nod/kudos (not like dozens of similar “shout outs” haven’t been done before) to the book that seriously changed my approach to my writing career—The Well-Fed Writer by Peter Bowerman. I’d heard great things about this book and decided to give it a read, but I never imagined how much of a game changer it would be.

I know a number of freelancers who make their living writing features, and until recently, that was the same course I’d set for myself. But the longer I’m at this, the more the panic is setting in. As most freelancers know, for every dozen queries sent, you’re lucky to get one pitch accepted. As most freelancers know, that Idea Well runs dry from time to time. (And for some of us, it’s usually dry, with occasional bursts of inspiration…) If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a hundred times—“I don’t know how these freelancers do it.” Maybe I don’t have my brain trained as well as I should (which is a definite possibility), but for me, it’s really difficult to keep the ideas coming. 2010 was a great summer for me professionally, but I get nervous about having to come up with ideas. All. The. Time. So for those of you who have managed to do it, you have my eternal admiration.

But…my fears were put very much to rest when I picked up TWFW. Bowerman is a full-time commercial writer—meaning that he has written anything and everything related to business. Think annual reports, brochures, press releases, direct mail pieces, speeches…all of that and more. I mean, it makes sense—someone has to write all of this. Many companies have cut both their budgets and manpower, but their companies still need to remain visible, still need to have a presence, and there are any number of FT commercial freelancers out there only too happy to help them do it. Suffice it to say, I was blown away. What a beautiful arrangement! I like to think that I have some shred of creativity, but I find that I do better if an editor/client comes to me with the germ of an idea, rather than the other way around. This can work both ways, which is a perfect solution for how I like to work.

I loved this book (and am currently working on the sequel, TWFW: Back for Seconds). I love Bowerman’s conversational writing style, his step-by-step, practical advice, and best of all, I love his down-to-earth, “You really can do this” message that’s sprinkled throughout the book. Plenty of other freelancers have done it. I read this and found myself getting very excited and encouraged about the potential for this type of writing. And just from what I’ve been hearing from local business owners, there seems to be a need for it (even in my very small area). I’ve read a fair share of writing books, but I can’t recall ever feeling so…inspired…as I did after reading this one. He talks about marketing (yes, I hate cold calling, too, but it seems to be a necessary part of getting yourself out there), the types of writing projects you may be asked to take on, networking and forming client relationships, building a portfolio, and even the “nuts and bolts” kinds of things (taxes, etc.) He includes plenty of words of wisdom from other full-time commercial freelancers, as well, which makes this book even more encouraging. There’s a strong sense of “These folks did it, why can’t I?” His blog has become a regular part of my day, as well.
So that’s my little commercial for The Well-Fed Writer. I’m so looking forward to putting the tips and advice into practice.

What about you? What changed your outlook on pursuing writing professionally?


  1. Sounds like a good book - I'll have to look for it. I found a new blog today that I'll be spending some time reading: The Renegade Writer, Found some good stuff there about building a freelance business.

    As for my own writing business (and my career in general), my biggest lesson has been to not put all my eggs in one basket. I take that to extremes somewhat, what with juggling two careers, but I like the idea that when things are slow in one area of work, they might be busy in another area.

    It's when they all get busy at once that there's trouble. ;-)

    Happy New Year!

  2. Oh, and congratulations and best of luck with Fresh Ink!

  3. Stacey--Thanks for commenting and for the good wishes! The Renegade Writer blog is one of my favorites, too. I would also recommend her books--one on query letters, the other on general freelancing. They're great resources.

    Happy New Year to you, too!