I met Alana last year at the Writer’s Campaign and was intrigued with her writercize exercises she did on her blog and wanted to try my hand at it. I offered to do a guest post for her. And now she has thoughtfully reciprocated. I specifically asked for one on her freelance activities because I am eager to build publishing credits. Alana has done a fantastic job of spelling out just how she became a freelancer and how you can build those credits, too.
Hi, I’m Alana, freelance writer and author of writercize. Writercize mixes the words “writing” and “exercise,” with the z thrown in for whimsy. I post writing exercises several times a week. You can find fiction, nonfiction, word games and poetry to help jump-start creativity for students, writers and other bloggers – and me!
Last fall, tired of reading drab stories to my children, I decided nothing was stopping me from trying to write one besides my own hesitation, so I decided to be brave and change that.
I joined a local writing group, the Torrance Children’s Writing Group. With no story idea, outline or first draft, I knew I had a long road to go, but I was inspired to get there. The members were diverse, creative and supportive. Everyone had something to share.
Completely coincidentally, a few months later I received an e-mail from a friend who wrote for a local newspaper. She had given her editor my name as a potential freelance reporter. Mind you, I didn’t know that this friend was anything “more” than a mom, and I had never indicated a desire to write.
It was as though she read my secret dream. I probably squealed out loud when I opened that e-mail. She was in a parenting group with me and liked my monthly (volunteer) newsletter articles.
I immediately wrote to the editor, admitted that I did not have any published samples, know how to format a submission for a newspaper, or have any collegiate training in the industry, but I would love a chance. I’ve been happily producing freelance work for them for one year. It’s pure luck that landed me the gig, but it gave me the confidence and publishing credits to forge ahead.
It’s also good training on how to make a story interesting. Try writing about sewage rate increases or budgetary bickering and make a reader want to share! It ain’t easy.
Fast forward a few months, I signed up to write with Technorati.com, an online news aggregate, to increase my visibility and tackle subjects that interest me. Anyone can apply to be an (unpaid) technorati writer – you submit a sample and get a reply within a couple of days.
In the meantime, I was told all writers need a blog. Not one to journal, I needed a focus. The image of writercize popped into my head, along with hundreds of potential topics, and two days later the blog was born. I’m the daughter of two retired teachers – lesson plans are in my blood!
So, how can one work towards being published?
- write! often!
- buy a recent edition of “Writer’s Market”
- become an online contributor or write for a community group if you are willing to trade (no) pay for experience
- visualize success
Writercize: Picture your writing accomplishments in one year. In three years. In five years. What do you see at each stage?
My answers? Another regular paid freelance gig in journalism in the next year, a published book or two in three years, and speaking engagements as an author in five.
Thank you Clar for the opportunity! And readers, in case you missed it (or want to see it again!), visit Clar’s thoughtful guest writercize post from last November.
Bio – When Alana isn’t writing, she is mom to four-year-old identical twin girls, wife to a charming Italian, world traveler, experimental home cook and incessantly busy community volunteer in the South Bay of Los Angeles.
She is in Italy as we speak and I’m not sure she can answer your comments but I will eagerly try my hand at it and hope she can chime in with her tablet. I was able to communicate with her a few days ago using that. Have any of you thought about free lancing for publication? And if you’re interested in published credits you could try your hand at technorati.com. Are any of you going to bite? I think I’ll scoot on over there and see what it’s about right now. Keep me posted in the comments. OK?