Tag Archives: freelance writing

Friday Links for Writers: 07.05.13

thailandIf I am late in posting this Friday Links for Writers, can we brag a little about having our feet up, kicked back, reading a book or luxuriating in chance to write uninterrupted because it’s summer?

Not just summer, but 4th of July’s long weekend. Savoring…

On Tuesday, I shared some great experiences I’ve had writing this week (Tuesday Writes). Kudos to a number of my writing friends and readers here who shared their writing milestones (and Twitter wordsprints) this week, too.

As always, each week’s writing includes awesome reading, and here are some of the best articles I’ve read this week. Let me know what resonates with you, what you’d like more of, or share your own links in the comments. Enjoy your weekend!

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4 Types of Freelance Clients to Avoid

This article by Lauren Levine at the Daily Muse is fabulous, especially for anyone considering getting into freelance writing or freelancing part time. No matter how tempting it is to take any client who asks for your services, Levine helps target the kinds of clients best avoided.

The Bridge & the Tunnel

Yeah, tease me: I’ve been tooting Donald Maass’s horn repeatedly the last 2 weeks. Last year I was doing the same over Ann Hood (like, in Writing Character: Sometimes the Work is Messy or this How Internal & External Conflict Build Story). Honestly, by the time you’re writing novel-length, it takes a certain quality of advice to really move your writing forward — to engage at the level of deepening conflict and character and story structure — and Hood and Maass do both of these. So, again, yes: another great resource from Maass. This article on Writers Unboxed addresses novel midpoints — key, as this is the part where so many drafts sag. Some fabulous prompts are included.

Work Alone: Hemingway’s 1954 Nobel Prize Acceptance Speech

Twice this week, I wrote about the value of having community support when writing. That said, in the end, it takes time alone to get the work done. Brainpickings is awesome at sharing original texts, and this transcript and recording of Hemingway’s Nobel Prize Acceptance speech is inspiring.

The Coffeeshop You Meet in Heaven

You don’t work in isolation but in a coffee shop, you say? This essay by Rebecca Makkai (author of The Borrower and several stories in Best American Short Stories, with a 2nd novel in the wings) in Ploughshares is worth a read. It’s Rebecca’s perfect coffee shop for writers.

Literary Culture Clash: Jonathan Lee Interviews Nicole Aragi

I could say Nicole Aragi was my favorite literary agent without actually knowing she existed simply because she has signed and promoted so many authors I admire (Nathan Englander, Jonathan Safran Foer, Aleksander Hemon, and being friends with Colum McCann, earns her bonus points). This interview by Jonathan Lee at Guernica is amazing to read, whether she reps your kind of fiction or not, just for offering a different glimpse inside publishing — one that includes love of good writing. (Thanks to agent Jenny Bent of the Bent Agency for sharing this. @jennybent)

Preditors & Editors

This is an old source I’d forgotten about — until a fellow writer was offered representation this week and the question arose: is the publisher legit? This is a great tool for vetting out legit publishers versus scams.

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Friday Links for Writers 03.08.13

maximo

Maximo, saltwater croc at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm. Yes, he’s real. c. Elissa Field

Chomp. Something must have eaten the first week of my March calendar, as this post is overdue.

In fact, two writing distractions have kept me away: one was preoccupation with following posts from AWP 2013 (check hashtag #awp2013 to find lingering conversations from the conference weekend). The other was application deadlines for May and summer conferences.

To that end, I ran a special post last week featuring major writers’ conferences: 2013 Writing Conferences & Workshops.

CastilloSanMarcosAt the same time, I headed north to St. Augustine to tour historic sites in America’s oldest European-settled city on the eve of Florida’s 500th anniversary. Yes, there’s more to Florida than bikinis and snowbirds. From early colonial settlements to the fort to the gilded age to listening to alligators roar… my brain is on overload.

But, lucky for you, this week’s reading yielded some fabulous links. A theme could be “debates” as links below take on topics from writing for free to PR scams to bullying, in addition to writing advice.

As always, let me know what you found inspiring in these or what topics you’d like to see more of.

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Lucrative Work-for-Free Opportunity

Atlantic Senior Editor Ta-Nehisi Coates takes on the debate of professional writers being expected to write “for exposure” in lieu of pay. In particular, Coates considers the ruckus raised when writer Nate Thayer very publicly rejected a request that he write a piece for the Atlantic for free (his spicy email is included), by reflecting on Coates’ and other writers’ common history of having published for free at various times in their careers. It’s a debate worth considering at a time when it is more easy to publish ideas than in the past, yet often more difficult to earn a living.

The Bad PR Hangover (and How to Avoid It)

In this post at Writer Unboxed, Sharon Bially addresses the services a writer should expect when contracting with a reputable PR agent. She begins with a frank rant about ineffective and even unethical PR approaches that make her “blood boil,” which leads to her “laundry list of must-haves in determining whether the firm you hire to publicize your book is up to par, and in understanding whether it’s doing (or will do) what it should for you.” A great resource, especially for those with a first book coming out.

Down the Rabbit Hole of Research 

When is research part of the hard work of writing, and when is it a time-sucking distraction? Bethanne Patrick offers thought-provoking insight on preventing research from leading a writer “down the rabbit hole” of fascinating tangents that eat away at writing time. Patrick’s own interesting insights are supported by reflections from published writers on whether they research before writing, while drafting, or not until completing a first draft, and more.

How to Stop the Bullies 

This article in The Atlantic caught my eye as it addresses the ubiquitous (and never-ending) conversation of bullying, cyber-bullying and bully-prevention. It is a fascinating read if you are a parent, educator or YA writer — but also for anyone involved in social media, as the writer traces the path of a complaint through Facebook and discusses the developments being attempted in writing algorithms to predict an abusive post.

The Rejection Generator Project 

Friday Links on February 1st shared the endearing Written Kitten. This isn’t that. No, in fact, it’s a bit more like hair of the dog that bit ya. Why wait for that painful rejection on the litmag submission that’s been pending for more than twice their stated response time? Generate your own brass knuckle reply with Stoneslide Corrective’s Rejection Generator Project. Like walking on briars to toughen your feet, you give it your email address and it shoots you a fireball of a rejection. All in fun, of course.

Tweet Spotlight: 2 Agents on Querying

Agent Pam van Hylckama tweeted to a YA writer: “If you just write a good query letter and follow sub guidelines, you are ALREADY in the top 10% of queries” (@BookaliciousPam, Mar. 9). Along the same line, Dawn Frederick of Red Sofa Literary Agency tweeted: “Why it’s important to follow submission guidelines: honoring such a basic request shows a willingness to work as a team w/ agent. #pubtips” (@RedSofaLiterary, Mar. 6).

What did you find in these links that is useful to you? Let me know if you want more on a particular subject, or share your own best finds.

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Shared by the Library of Congress, this poster is from a Chicago promotion 1936-1941. No known copyright restrictions.Did you see my Winter 2013 Reading List? As the list shows, there is clearly no shortage of great new fiction to keep our reading hours full.

But what of books that linger from one list to the next — or even from one decade to the next — and never get read?

It’s nearly time for me to post the March Reading Challenge: inspired by this vintage public service announcement from 1939-41, it’s time to “read the books you’ve always meant to read.”

If you have a minute, please click here if you’d like to share the kinds of books on your 2013 Reading List — including any you’ve always meant to read yet never gotten around to.

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How the January Challenge Arose from Freelance Writing

Day One - BeginI began this month by proposing the January Challenge (finish something, start something, improve something, then evaluate & plan where to go next) not because it was the logical way of doing things but because, for many of us who are writing, each of our goals shares our attention with multiple competing tasks.

If we want to start that novel revision, we first have to finish this project for our day job. If we want to get started with story submissions, we first have to finish revising. As I addressed in 15 Strategies for Finishing Work  last week, much of what we do involves time management of competing priorities.

It just dawned on me to say:  I learned this cycle by freelance writing. 

Considering the interest many of you expressed when I blogged about day jobs, today is a reflection on why the finish-start-improve-plan cycle is so important to making progress as a writer.

Most of my freelance jobs evolve into long-term roles, with enough work and pay to become my sole client. Still, others involve sporadic projects with clients not sure of their own goals, projects too small to be substantial income, or even an occasional client who was slow to pay. For anyone considering freelancing, know that continually stoking the fire for new work is part of the weekly task list.

So it was from freelancing that I learned the overall writing skill: that a productive writing business involves constantly feeding the 4-step cycle of finishing, starting, improving and planning.

It’s illogical: why do I put finish before start, or before plan?

This week I covered a friend’s 4th grade class one morning and, as I presented her lesson on the animal lifecycle with the circular cycle of egg-chick-chicken-egg… I was reminded why I list finish before start.

Yes, on day one — like that “START HERE” space on a board game — you begin with “plan” and “start.”  But there’s only one “start here” space on that gameboard, and most of us are not really on day one of our writing.

Most of us have a half dozen or so projects floating (overlapping writing and family and clients or day job, etc. projects) so taking a valid, productive step forward with our writing involves getting something else finished and out of the way, first.

I can get started with submitting my writing, but maybe I need to finish revision first. I can start with revising my novel, but I need to finish last week’s day job project first. I can start an idea for a novel, but maybe I needed to clear away holiday-vacation emails from clients first. I can start with my big project (the literary magazine) this week, but needed to finish last week’s grading and semester planning first.

The Key: Stoking All 4 Steps of the Cycle

What is most important is this single concept: once these 4 steps rotate into a cycle, notice the overlap of planning your next steps, finishing remaining work, and starting something new.

Before you even finish one project, you should have been evaluating and planning for the next project you will be starting.  My husband was a pharmaceutical rep and, in sales, they referred to this as “pipeline.” You have what you can finish today, but have already planned and seeded what you will do next, with your next project ready in the pipeline.

In freelancing, this meant I had already been marketing for new clients before I approached the end of a project. In fiction, it might mean having short stories submitted to literary magazines then start work on revising that novel while you’re waiting to hear back. It might mean, as you head toward finishing that novel draft, thinking ahead to what will be needed to connect with agents — maybe anticipating summer writing conferences or learning how to write a query.

A Little of Each, Every Day (or Week)

Although I set up the January Challenge to address one step of the cycle for each week of this month, I kept my freelance business going by addressing all 4 steps of the cycle every week, if not every day.

Every week I had a task list of steps needed to complete a current project. I evaluated and planned what was needed for that publication, as well as where the next job would come from. I scheduled steps to get the next project going (if with the same client) or took marketing steps to keep the pipeline fed.  I improved the functioning of my business (sent invoices or reorganized or tweaked my (now offline) website). A little of each, every week, kept the machine constantly fed and moving productively forward.

In truth, particularly when I became a mom, the economy crashed and other personal challenges made life more complicated, it was applying all 4 of these steps that has brought about my most successful moments. On the job or scrambling with kids or working to finish writing — attending to all 4 steps keeps progress moving forward.

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write start badgeThis Week: Begin Something

That said, this week of the January Challenge will focus on Starting Something New (link takes you to next week’s launch).  In the meantime, think of a project you need to get underway to accomplish an important goal in 2013.

What do you have to begin in 2013?

Remember, this is a group challenge and we’d love to hear how it is working for you.  What goals do you need to take on (this week, this month or sometime this year)?  What strategies work for you? What obstacles keep you from getting started?

If you join in, we’d all love to hear how your challenge progresses: write about it on your blog (use the January Challenge badge if you’d like); include link to this original challenge, and be sure to come back here and share your link with us.

Be sure to check out the Week 2: Start Something launch later this week!

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If you like this blog, be sure to subscribe using WordPress’s +follow option, or via email or RSS feed.  I love to connect with like-minded readers and writers!

Going on this month:

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Filed under January Challenge, Time Management for Writers, Writing Process & Routine