Reading Alison Tait's blog Life in a Pink Fibro inspired this post. Alison is a blogger, author and freelancer with 20+ years experience working in magazines, newspapers and online.
Pinpointing what I like about being a writer is easy - hearing people's stories, using words to craft a story, seeing said story in print and the power of sharing stories.
Changing what I don't like about being a writer takes work. I was lamenting to a friend recently that I love the writing part of my job but not the selling side. Selling? Yes selling. Writers sell ideas to editors. To be a freelancer who actually gets paid work you have to do BOTH writing and selling. It's true that editors commission writers to do stories but writer's ideas are their currency; the ability to take your idea, come up with an angle and sell it to an editor is the real skill as far as I'm concerned. There's no two ways about it, rejection is not fun but it is part of the job. Alison has written a great post on pitching.
For those starting out, the adage 'write about what you know' worked for me. Writing about what you passionately know about will come across in your writing.
As I explain on my about page, writing and cooking have been passions of mine from a young age so it made sense when the time came that I wanted to work as a writer to combine the two. I remember when I was 19 deciding I wanted to be a food writer, I sat by the phone picking up and putting down the receiver trying to pluck up the courage to phone Roslyn Grundy the then editor of The Age newspaper food section Epicure. I wasn't phoning Roslyn with a story idea. I eventually made the call and earnestly asked Roslyn, "how do I go about becoming a food writer?" Roslyn defied every stereotype of gruff editors and spent half an hour talking encouragingly to me about looking for stories, suggesting them to editors and the importance of reading food writing. Ten years later I enjoyed working with Roslyn as my editor when I was reviewing for The Age Cheap Eats and The Age Good Food Guides.
Whether you are an aspiring or experienced writer here are some ideas and links to get you started or keep you going:
-For a goldmine of freelance writing tips and inspiration click on Alison Tait's writing page.
-Seek out your local writer's centre such as Writers Victoria, The Sydney Writers Centre or Varuna
- Or this online writer's society Write on Edge
-Take a look at Julia Cameron's book The Right to Write
-If you are thinking about starting a blog or want to improve your existing Problogger is the place
-Read with a pen in your hand. Take note of what really works in other writer's work and use it to sharpen up your own.
- I love Doris Lessing's approach when pulling a story together, Lessing says you have to 'let it cook'. Even with a deadline looming if the words are not flowing going for a short walk and 'letting it cook' really works for me.
- Go with the flow. Get the words out, edit later.
- Whether you are scared to write, bored with what you're writing, uninspired, frustrated, exhilarated, passionate the feelings pass the process is the same - you must start and keep going.
For me the writing life is proving to be a rich life, no it has not been a fast track to financial fortune, instead it challenges and inspires me daily and has enabled me to be at home with my sons in the early years of their life.
Let me know if you have any writing links you love or if you have any questions about the writing life.
That's enough of that for now. Happy weekending to you all! What are you cooking? Home made burgers and chips for dinner here tonight. And I'm yet to decide what baking joy will take place. Perhaps something from Sarah Wilson's new 'I Quit Sugar' e-cookbook. Bye for now.