January 11, 2011

Freelance Writing

Jeff Geerling photo
As we toiled through the economic morass that defined the past few years, I'm sure most of us wondered if things would really be better, come the new year. I did, for sure, and in those last days of December, I sat down and forged a plan. Optimism is one of my greatest strengths (or failings, as the case may be) and the simple act of setting out some goals and reasonable expectations brought me into this year with great enthusiasm.

Not only would I continue to work hard for the publications that have supported me in the past, I would spend some time each week acquainting myself with new possibilities. Sitting down and researching publications and their needs, wants, policies, and compensations is by no means a quick or simple task. But it is a very necessary one for any writer who wishes to build a foundation for their work.

The key to finding your assignments is clarifying to yourself where your strongest writing lies, then pursuing those publications that cater to your subject. Tempting as it might be to try something new, you'd be best served to stick with what you know and can manage easily. Organize the publications according to the type of submission they require; i.e., do they insist on snail mail? Will they take phone pitches? Do they have an upload feature for submitting? Categorizing them in this way will allow you to use your time and energy efficiently. Choose a day for putting together only the mail submissions, then choose another day to query or submit via e-mail. (I find that switching from physical to electronic and back to physical can get confusing.)

Whether you write short content for blogs and online sites, columns or essays, or longer feature articles, it's important to have a structure to your work plan. Today's technology can provide you with anything you need, many times for very little cost.

One of my latest "finds" is a wonderful tool called Writer's Scribe. I tried out the Mac version demo, loved it, and it now is comfortably settled on my computer, helping me stay organized and ahead of the game. With over 125 feature-length articles in my portfolio, I can no longer keep track of them using file folders.

From time to time, I'll be sharing some of my past articles, and I hope to feature some guest writers here on the Musings page. If you've discovered a wonderful writing tool that will help make this year more productive, please share it with us. We all need to succeed!

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