Do you like free stuff? Of course you do. Check out my Free Articles page on my Web site. And let me know if you like this feature, and want more. Crave more. Can’t live without more me. Also, if you like my site and my writing, contact me and we’ll talk.
Here’s my latest review from the Austin American-Statesman:
OK, I’ve been fiddling with a freelance query letter for two weeks now and have finished a draft. I’m hoping one of my readers might volunteer to read the draft and give me some pointers/feedback.
If you’d be willing to do so, let me know, and I’ll be forever grateful.
Bronk’s speciality is wildlife writing and he’s published in national magazines including Field & Stream, Camping & RV, and American Hunting.
He outlined some basics that included caveats as well as encouraging secrets to success as a freelancer:
- You have chosen a difficult writing genre
- In you write the manuscript first you will fail
- Quality must remain high
- Anybody can qualify, sex, age, abilities
- Manuscript vs. query letters
- Read the magazine
- Put yourself in the editor’s chair
- You are needed
- You can predict needs
- Don’t give up your day job
While some of the advice can be found in most articles or advice books on magazine writing, I liked getting a firsthand account from someone with a lot of experience.
One particular piece of advice — to query first before writing — has been on my mind lately, because I’ve been noodling around with several ideas, and I want to rush to get started, before I have any idea what to really write. Queries, Bronk said, were as important to your success as a freelance as your skill as a writer.
Other advice that he offered:
- Write things that interest you
- Write for free to get experience and clips
- Nurture and protect your relationships with editors
- Think ahead
- Study the magazine, looking for length and type of articles
- Go to writing classes
To all those out there who freelance:
I’ve been noodling around a story idea for a freelance piece and have been wondering whether it’s better to send out queries first and then write the story, or whether it’s better to write a story and then query publications about it?
I welcome any suggestions in the comments.
Below is a link to a new piece. I like this piece, because it’s my first published personal essay.
Just spent some time updating my published works page at my other site. If you’re interested, check it out here.
Compare their biographies (see below) and authors Rebecca Lawton and Jordan Rosenfeld seem on different journeys as writers, one leaning predominantly toward essays on natural science, the other toward freelance journalism and fiction. Brief biographies, however, are only surface geologies in the strata of a writer’s life. Each has layered her creative life with the power of attracting such a life by writing down her desires. Discovering this power of attraction was significant enough in their evolution as writers that after they met, both decided to share their discovery with other writers, first as a seminar and then through the book Write Free: Attracting the Creative Life (BeijaFlor/Kalupi, 2007). The book’s central idea is that a writer can attract the life he or she wants, and at the same time he or she can be un-mired from negative energy: negative energy, indeed, is the culprit that denies us our dreams. The book helps writers, or any creative person for that matter, focus on what they want by writing down their desires and acting on them.
While reading the book, I had some follow-up questions for Becca and Jordan, which they graciously answered. They also graciously agreed to an interview via e-mail to talk further about the book and their writing lives.
Below is the interview:
You both have diverse backgrounds as writers. Once you met, how did Write Free come together? Did you have different approaches to writing the book?
RL: Write Free, the book, came together as a result of our putting together a writer’s retreat at Wellspring Renewal Center on the Navarro River, California. Writers came from all over the country to share in our launching the Write Free work. Jennie Landsfield arrived from Chicago — in the very moment Jordan and I
met her, she envisioned a book we’d be writing together. The subject: using writing to attract our ideal lives — writing lives, it turned out. We not only set to work on the book immediately after the retreat, we dedicated it to Jennie. We split the work of writing chapters down the middle, reviewed and revised each other’s work, and brought the diverse chapters into one piece. It came together fairly seamlessly.
JR: We had a startlingly easy time writing this book. Before we wrote the book we decided to organize a teaching-style retreat to share what we had discovered was happening in our own writing lives. We held our first ever Write Free retreat at the magnificent Wellspring retreat center in 2006, and from there the idea for the book just flowed. It felt like we were in synch when writing the book, even though, if you read carefully, you can feel tone and voice differences when Becca is writing, or when I am. Certainly we bring different lenses to bear on the subject, but I think Becca would agree we had (and have) a great synergy.
Were the principles of attraction shared? Were there ever any conflicts?
RL: We discovered the principles of attraction somewhat serendipitously — as we say in the book, we noticed that the things we desired for our lives seemed to come into being once we’d written them down, thereby defining them, and held them in a confident space. A friend of mine who already knew of the work
of Lynn Grabhorn recommended we read Excuse Me, Your Life Is Waiting. We read that, and Grabhorn’s Playbook, sharing the journey of learning through weekly meetings either by phone or in person. We only stopped meeting regularly when Jordan’s baby Ben was born, and no doubt we’ll soon be back on a schedule for meeting about our work. It’s been definitely a partnership, very smooth and conflict free.
JR: If you mean did we share the principles of attraction with others, yes we did in workshops and in classes. If you mean did we share the principles among ourselves, that’s a yes too. When we came to the work, we both had had “power of attraction” experiences already in our lives and were drawn to similar
material. We both felt a great connection to the idea for the book and I’m proud to say we really didn’t have any major conflicts.
As I’ve read the book and worked through the activities one word seems to stand out — “focus”. How important is focus for a writer to attract the creative life he or she wants?
RL: Attracting the life you want requires having the clearest possible picture of it you can muster. Focus is essential in that it distills and directs your energy toward having what you want. I believe your focus will change: some things will sharpen as you acquire more information and mature, just as other things will go out of focus. That’s evolution. At any point in your evolution, it’s critical to take time to joyously and intuitively work out the focus for your next steps.
JR: Very. Focus is the way we communicate to the universe (and to ourselves) what we want. Setting an intention requires focus. Getting down to the act of writing requires focus (diverting one’s attention away from the many clamoring aspects of our lives, like jobs and spouses and children). Focus is an important key, and each of us does it differently but I think without it you can’t really get very far toward any creative project.
Thinking of maintaining focus, it seems that a lot of negative energy comes out of distraction? How can writers overcome distraction, especially everyday distractions: jobs, money, children, etc.?
RL: The best response to this I’ve heard yet is the poet Terry Ehret‘s solution for the distractions in a writer’s life: integrate them. If money is an issue, write about it. If children speak to you as you’re working, let the essence of what they’re saying flow on to the page. These everyday distractions are the stuff of life — they’re material you can use, if you remember that you’re a writer first and foremost. For many of us, families top our lists of what’s key to our lives. Remembering that, and finding structure in your time that allows both their loving support and your writing, you’ll integrate distraction.
JR: This is one of those answers that’s like a Zen koan — you overcome distraction by doing the opposite of it — which as you point out, is focusing. I think part of the problem many writers have in terms of being distracted from writing comes from fears/beliefs we hold about how hard/scary, or even exciting (thus shameful) it is to write. A lot of people feel guilt for wanting to take time to themselves for something that doesn’t necessarily bring material wealth or immediate results. By doing the writing exercises in our book we hope to help people crystallize their passion for writing so that they see how much is missing from their lives without it. (And you could easily substitute painting, dancing or sculpting for writing).
One of my favorite books about writing is Richard Rhodes’s How to Write, a resource I recommend any writer: Reassuring like an oasis’ pool, it also readily supplies you for the laden march when the wasteland crunches under your feet.
Of late I’ve been having trouble writing. Not so much writer’s block, but writer’s blah, a Bill-the-Cat-Ack blah (now that’s an obscure reference for some of you). Finding something to write about. A subject. A topic. A sentence. A word. A story.
I’ve written in my journal. But that only sort of feels like writing. I don’t have any freelance articles to write: I haven’t really pursued freelance in some time. (My last published piece was in December. You can read it here.) There’s an essay I want to shape up, or should take a look at again. I started an essay last Monday, but set it aside: a late-week emotional uncoiling and the words kerplunked.
As for fiction … don’t ask. Fiction seems remote at the moment.
And until this moment, blog posts have been sparse.
One of the things I do when I’ve hit the blahs like this is surf my favorite blogs, and hope I can steal an idea and make it my own (we’ll steal from our own grandmother, eh Mr. Faulkner?). At the very least, I’ll comment on a post. (Are comments writing?) Anyhow, today I was reading a new favorite, Sophisticated Dorkiness, and was reminded of Rhodes’s Knickerbocker Rule.
Rhodes, a Pulitzer Prize winner, once wrote for the Hallmark PR department and he relates an anecdote (I almost wrote “little anecdote” but that would be redundant) about approaching his boss, Conrad Knickerbocker, who had begun to have some successes writing, publishing book reviews and fiction. Rhodes asked Knickerbocker how to become a writer. Knickerbocker said, “‘Rhodes, you apply ass to chair.’”
Kim at Sophisticated Dorkiness mentions Sunday Salon, which she wants to participate in as an impetus to blog more.
And to blog more means to write more. Which is a good thing. Because I need to write more. I read the Sunday Salon introduction and it sounds like it may very well be worth participating in, if only to get myself writing something on Sunday (especially tough this time of year since football season has started), and thus apply the Knickerbocker Rule.