Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Defining Freelance Writing

This week, we wish to introduce a new regular columnist at Pix-N-Pens. Our regular Pixels will recognize the name because Debbie Roome has been a regular here at PnP since its debut.

Each Wednesday, Debbie will post a column about freelance writing - touching on topics for all skill levels - from beginner to professional. Please give Debbie a warm welcome with her first weekly column. If you have any questions, please leave them in the comments and one of us will provide an answer for you.

Defining Freelance Writing
by Debbie Roome

I began writing at the age of six. At seven I wrote my first “novel” - a fairy story in a spiral-bound note book. At eight I landed my first paying assignment - The Star newspaper in Johannesburg paid me $10 for a story they printed on their children’s page. From those early beginnings, I have diversified into many areas of freelance writing and find it a very fulfilling way to make a living.

What Does a Freelance Writer Do
There are many areas in which a freelance writer (FLW) can find work. Many of these are not immediately obvious, but can be quite lucrative. Here are a few ideas to get you thinking:

· News reporting for publications/radio or television
· General feature writing
· Specialized writing in specific areas of expertise
· Column writing
· Reviews
· Sports writing
· Compilation of manuals
· Ghost writing
· Newsletters for clubs/churches etc
· Advertising copy/brochures/fliers
· Speech writing
· Short stories for magazines
· Editing and proof reading
· Web site content
· Annual reports

Can I Become a FLW
Writers often have a natural aptitude for language, spelling, punctuation and grammar. English may have been their strongest subject at school and they love to write. This love is evident in the way they live. Do you keep a journal, write stories for your children or enjoy writing letters to friends? If so, you probably have the potential to become a FLW.

Do I Need Training to Become a FLW
Yes and no. There are many gifted writers who have no formal training in their art. They have built their careers from the bottom and have acquired the necessary skills on the way up. Having said that, training is available in myriad forms. If you have the chance or means to get some instruction, grab it with both hands. Look for opportunities such as these:

· One day writing seminars
· Local writing groups
· Correspondence courses
· Night school
· Degrees in communication and media studies
· Journalism courses
· Books about writing
· Competitions that offer critiques

What Characteristics Do I Need to Succeed as a FLW
There are several qualities that mark a successful FLW. First of all, you will need patience and perseverance. It takes time and effort to build up to a place where your writing can support you. You will also need a thick skin. Actually, a very thick skin. Even the best writers get dozens of rejections and you have to learn not to take them personally. If the editor rejecting your work gives you a reason, learn from it. It may be that your grammar was weak or it could be that the publication printed a similar piece of work quite recently. A successful FLW also has an enquiring mind and looks for opportunities. These can be as simple as writing a letter to a newspaper or approaching a club to see if they need someone to compile their monthly newsletters.

Writers have the potential to reach millions through their words. Words can shape lives, change thought patterns and bring healing. It is a great privilege to write and although there are days when the words just won’t come, I know that it’s only temporary. I have also learnt that God can take secular writing and open amazing opportunities for ministry...more about that in weeks to come.

Please leave a comment if you have any questions or if anything really struck a chord. I’d love to hear from you.

Next week, I’ll be looking at how to set up a home office and the basic equipment needed to work as a FLW.

Debbie Roome works as a freelance writer from her home in New Zealand. Current projects include a contract for writing devotionals, contributions to the local paper, editing and production of a community newsletter and compilation of her church’s year book. Read some of her work at Suite 101 and Faithwriters.

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