FRANK TALK ABOUT WHAT WE DO WITH OUR LIVES

Entry #1 (2013)

“Bring us into your world. What is something about your work (past or present) that outsiders typically don’t understand? It can be something required by the job, something that happens on the job, something you feel about the job—but whatever it is, do not exceed 800 words.

 

A Freelance Writer’s World

Small talk at social gatherings brings up the quintessential question that is the bane of a freelance writer.

“What do you do for a living?”

“I’m a freelance writer.”

“Oh, so you don’t work!”

Come into my world to discover the work that I do, because the job does require work, albeit, it varies with the day of the week, or the hat that I wear.

The freedom connected to being a freelance writer, however, makes this a career that I love, despite the misunderstanding of the job description and obligations connected to it.  Today’s digital society, while adding more work to the job, also adds more freedom.  I have a home office where I report to work, however since it’s my office, and I’m the boss, I can carry my work with me to take off on a trip, not bound to the office, nor negligent of my responsibilities.

I may have the freedom to work whenever or wherever I want, but I also know that no work equals no pay. The security of that weekly paycheck is always the goal, but never guaranteed.  Freelance writers battle with the ambiguity of both income amounts and arrival time, engulfed in a world that more times than not brings feast or famine.  Then there are the self-esteem issues that I must constantly monitor connected to the dry spells when I wonder if I can sustain this career.

Am I going to make enough income this year?  Do my words make a difference, or am I fooling myself?

My former newspaper editor, an exceptional mentor, patiently listened on one of my doubting days, when the feeling of overwhelm frustrated me.

“When does the insecurity go away?”  I demanded to know.

“Never!” he emphatically declared.  “Not if you want to be a good writer, since it is that insecurity that keeps you professional, propelling you to constantly seek to improve.”

The main crux of my job is as a freelance journalist.  What I enjoy most about my job is when I am working on an article for an online or print publication.  This is where I feel I make the most difference.  Over the years, I have developed a process culminated from writing courses, writing experience, and advice from other writers and editors.

First, there is the research, followed by an interview or two.  After I have compiled the facts, I go into what I like to call “brew” time.  This is when an observer may find me staring into space, or watches me stopping whatever else it is I might be doing to jot down an idea.  I am composing the article in my head, mulling over different ideas, and deliberating its main thrust, before ever sitting down to write the words that will best express it.  I guess I do look to the outsider as if I am not working.

Second, comes the actual writing.  I never second guess myself and just free write, or regurgitate, whatever my mind has processed onto the keyboard.  I am a firm believer in the left-brain vs. right-brain theory.  This is my right brained activity, where creativity is not restricted.  I allow no one to view this first draft, because it is only the bare bones of what will develop into writing to share.

Third, comes the editing of this regurgitation.  Here is where I put my left-brain to work to make logic from the chaos.  When done, I take a mind break, give the article a little distance, and then return to rewrite, rewrite, and rewrite some more.  No matter how much natural writing talent a person possesses, it is in the rewriting that a professional article is born.

Finally, after giving the article as much distance as deadline time permits, I give it one final read aloud to find any glitches in the cohesiveness of the final work.  When reading, our eyes fill in for what is missing.  Hearing the writing catches any such omissions or distortions.  Now I feel ready to submit it.

My other hats, in order to make an income in the publishing atmosphere of freelancing today, are to write essays, to do book reviews, to critique unpublished manuscripts, and to do editing work for clients.  I am researching and writing a book, which requires writing a blog to ascertain and keep readership interest in my topic.  Oh, yes, then there is establishing a platform, so add in social media, writing conferences, and keeping current on matters in the publishing field.  Do not forget the marketing aspect of the job, where queries go out to publications, and soliciting of clients comes into play.

Who doesn’t work?

***

Back to the other entries.

  1. “Who Doesn’t Work?” asks this author – making a living the hard way as a freelance writer (I’m still jealous). Creative work is oft misunderstood, stuck with denigrating notions that authors, musicians and artists are ‘playing’ while the rest of us toil. Without writing we’d be only slightly more useful than monkeys; with it we travel the Earth, the oceans, space itself. Keep up the good work, writer. And let me know if this needs editing for clarity…

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