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Freelance Writer How-To’s

April 15, 2010

Cindy Battles

This post was contributed by Cindy Battles, a freelance writer based in Rutland, VT who’s been diagnosed with and managing bipolar disorder for many years.

In journalism school, I’d always dreamed of being a freelance writer. And thankfully, technology now makes it much easier for my dream to become a reality. Why?

In the past, not only did you have to work much harder to obtain contact information (there was no “Google”) but most of the time you were simply waiting for snail-mail to first, deliver your query and second — hopefully — deliver a response.

There was a lot of waiting.

Today, it’s so easy to search online for editors’ e-mail addresses and send multiple digital queries/writing samples; the potential job pool is unlimited. And, the range of topics available seems never-ending. I’ve written about book clubs, economic fund-raising festivals, state fairs, a judicial profile, a peony farm, elderhostels, and a pediatric outpatient center, among other topics. Certainly, the variety keeps it interesting!

Plus, with so much writing happening across the Internet, freelance writers are in demand. So it’s a great time to try it out and perhaps earn a little extra income.

Things you could do to start bringing your writing dream alive:  

  • Attend local writing groups and workshops to both improve your work as well as to network with others in the field (check your local library or newspaper for listings, often, they’re free)
  • Research through reading (again, the library’s a great place to start, try Starting Your Career As a Freelance Writer)
  • Call local magazines/newspapers and ask what their submission procedures are (chances are, you’ll find a helpful person on the other line willing to push you in the right direction)
  • Expect to “flail;” meaning: be patient, experiment, learn the hard ways, learn the easy ways — just know that often, there is no direct route to success, it can take time — for sure, flailing is necessary! It will be key in teaching yourself persistence and resilience you’ll need.

So go ahead. You can do it! Dream, write, flail!


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