April 19, 2014

Open Thread: What Would YOU Like to Read About?

Between the upcoming launch of my new Rockable Book (stay tuned!), the holiday weekend, regular assignments, end-of-the month invoices, and last-minute requests from editors, it’s been a crazy week. Can you believe it’s only Wednesday?

That’s why I’ll keep this week’s open thread short and sweet: what would you like to read about? Any topics you’d like to see covered? What’s on your mind lately? I’d love to know!

7 Deadly Sins of Freelance Writing

broken pencilsThinking about mistakes that freelance writers make reminded me of the seven deadly sins. Here’s my take on the topic, along with links explaining each “sin” in more depth and offering tips to avoid them.

  1. Lust
    As storytellers, we want our articles to have emotional impact and capture the reader’s attention, especially now with online publishers competing for page views and eyeballs. But sometimes we take this desire a little too far by over-promising in our headlines or using sensationalism to sell the story.
    Toxic Storytelling: When Trauma is Sensationalized
  2. Gluttony
    In The Art and Craft of Feature Writing, Wall Street Journal reporter William E. Blundell discusses the dangers of too much background material, which some writers use as a crutch to avoid writing. If you become a glutton for research, it’s hard to digest the information and break it down into bite-sized pieces for your readers. Likewise, gorging on too many projects at once can lead to missed deadlines or burnout.
    Too Many Articles Killed the Freelance Writing Star
  3. Greed
    Some writers are so worried about the competition that they refuse to share leads or ideas. Being greedy may cause other writers to stop sharing with you, but generosity fosters collaboration and allows you to build community.
    Help, Don’t Hinder, Fellow Freelance Writers
  4. Sloth
    Some writers lift quotes from other publications instead of doing their own reporting. Some don’t even bother to include quotes, even when the story would benefit from the inclusion of real people and experts. These shortcuts don’t endear you to editors or readers.
    Is Social Media Making Journalists Lazy?
  5. Wrath
    When a client or editor lose their cool, it’s tempting for the freelancer to fire back an angry email or vent on social media. Remember, though, that once it’s in writing, you can’t take it back. That’s why it’s usually best to take a few cleansing breathes before responding.
    Calming an Angry Client
  6. Envy
    Jealousy isn’t productive unless it challenges you to work harder and aim higher. Unfortunately, when another writer lands a book deal or a plum assignment, we often get mired in wondering “why not me?” when in actuality there are lots of opportunities to go around.
    5 Ways to Deal with Writer Envy
  7. Pride
    Many a proud writer has refused to take criticism or rewrite their story to an editor or client’s specifications. But that writer needs to realize that writing for publication or business clients means keeping them happy and putting their needs above your pride.
    Dealing With Negative Criticism
Confession time! Have you committed any of these sins? Anything you’d add?

Image courtesy of Robert Cochrane / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Weekend Reading: E-Readers & Bringing New Eyes to Blog Posts

reading on a laptopNo guest posts this week, so instead I’m sharing a roundup of the links I’ve been reading lately. (By the way, you’re interested in contributing a guest post, now’s a great time to get in touch with me. Please check out the guest blogger guidelines first.)

–If you’ve been blogging for awhile, then Lexi Rodrigo offers some great ideas in her post, How to Bring New Eyes to Old Blog Posts.
–In an infographic called Uncovering the Freelance Economy, the Zaarly blog shows how writers stack against other types of freelancer.
–Considering buying an e-reader? Check out Kimberly Palmer’s article, Which E-Reader Has the Best Customer Service?, for a succinct breakdown of your options.
–Kelly James-Enger’s 10 Common Freelance Mistakes and How to Fix Them is a must-read for newbies and veteran freelancers alike, featuring lots of links to Kelly’s previous posts.
–Looking ahead to September (where did the summer go?), Emily Suess of Suess’s Pieces has announced a week of prizes and contests for writers, September 12-16. (Hat tip to Jake Poinier of Dr. Freelance for the tip.)
What have you been reading lately? Any links you’d recommend? Enjoy your weekend!

Open Thread: What’s Your Professional Development Strategy?

stack of booksAs kids head back to school, it’s time for us freelancers to brush up on our skills and perhaps learn some new ones. Michelle Rafter posted a list of upcoming writer’s conferences, and while I’ll be attending the ASJA 2012 conference next spring, right now I’m planning to stay closer to home for my professional development.

I hope to finally finish reading the Yahoo! Style Guide and attend more of the Reynolds Center for Business Journalism’s free online workshops. The one attended earlier this summer got me really fired up with new ideas, but what typically happens (as was the case last week) is that I sign up and some last minute interview or deadline prevents me from listening in. Fortunately, the Reynolds Center send out the recordings, but it’s not quite the same as participating as the workshop unfolds and asking questions in real time. I earned my Certificate in Writing for Professional Communication at Emerson College last year, but I may sign up for a few more modules, since they let you take classes ala carte.
What about you? Any plans for some professional enrichment? What skills would you like to learn and how are you keeping your existing skills current? Do tell!