My guru for writing is GRAMMAR GIRL aka Mignon Fogarty. I was introduced to Grammar Girl’s Quick And Dirty Tips™ while listening to a NPR program one evening. I laughed, I sighed, I even Ah-HA’d! Everyone with the passion for writing, young and old, should visit her site. Grammar Girl posts tips and discusses long held perplexing questions regarding the English language. Even better, Grammar Girl hosts a podcast that is not only technical, but humorous, as well.
Becoming the reader is the essence of becoming a writer.
Ever since I can remember, I have always had a passion for reading and writing. My first memories are reading “Danny And The Dinosaur” by Syd Hoff and “Little Bear” by Elsa Holmelund Minarik at the age of three or four. My parents always encouraged me to read early and often, often sharing books with me daily.
The passion for writing grew from my passion for reading. First manifesting in my story-telling, creating make-believe scripts, and utilizing everything in my environment to invent plays with my sister and friends. Ultimately, my love of reading and my enjoyment of writing led me to an enjoyable education.
After graduation, I entered college to become a an elementary school teacher. However, I ended up in a law office, working as a legal assistant. This is where I have been for 23 years. My legal career afforded me the ability to use my writing skills, and plenty of opportunity to read, though in a more narrow and technical way. However, my creative passion did not dissipate.
While I was earning my living by providing written work product and legal research for attorneys, my inner writer was not dormant. I continually wrote in my journal, wrote poetry, and short stories. Upon the urging of my husband, I then started transferring my thoughts and words onto a blog, SMILED SOUL. Soon after, I found myself interacting with other writers and poets online. The more I engaged with them, the more I found myself estranged from the confines of the law office and the monotony of my vocation. After two decades of pouring my heart and soul into my job, I started longing for a work life not regulated by the hours 9 to 5. I wanted to complete writing projects on a variety of topics; not court documents regarding personal injury or product defect.
My husband has been a tenuous cheerleader, rallying me to pursue my passion for writing. He, an IT specialist and web designer, often encouraged me to enter the world of freelance writing. He had more confidence in my talent to produce web content, blog articles, and such, than I had in myself. I would help him occasionally on projects he was assigned, but had no clue how the freelance world operated, where to start, the first step to take, and to whom I should present my well written and interesting pieces.
I found myself looking for stories in everything and everyone. I found enjoyment in writing on topics through another’s point of view. One day I met a friend who was established in the fields of Internet Marketing and Search Engine Optimization. She had worked with my husband on several projects and learned that I was wanting to write professionally. She presented me with the opportunity to produce written web content and blog articles for her company.
Great ability develops and reveals itself increasingly with every new assignment.
I will forever be grateful for the opportunity Julie gave me. It opened the door for me to pursue what I love to do, professionally. The projects started rolling in. I then posted my profile on iFreelance.com, Guru.com, and LinkedIn offering my services as a freelance writer. I enjoy working from home, conducting phone interviews and submitting my work electronically. I must confess, in the beginning I felt outside my comfort zone. Being a perfectionist, I had to resist tweaking my product for hours and hours. Yet, as with everything else in my life, stepping outside the box of comfort is exhilarating. Before I started my freelance writing business, I was reluctant to tread on uncharted territory, now I look forward to it. I search for it.
I don’t pursue my freelance writing to make millions of dollars. I write out of passion, not pretense. My bread and butter currently comes from my work as a legal assistant. Hopefully in the near future, I can rely upon my profession to sustain me. Yet when I look back over the past year, I realize how far I have come as a freelance writer. Freelance writing has given my passion for writing wings and me the courage to soar. It is ultimate satisfaction. A dream fulfilled and on my own terms.
However, I am also grateful for my long legal career. It has provided me the means to live a decent life, to assist in providing for my family, and to provide the necessities of food, shelter and health. It has also provided me with valuable insights and experiences about people. While my freelance writing business is not making me rich, I have my legal career that affords me the opportunity to pursue my passion of writing professionally.
What I have learned on this journey is that every life experience can be interpreted in a myriad of ways. Every experience is a story waiting to be written. I have learned to connect with like-minded people and to step outside of the box of known and explore the unknown. I am eager to expand my awareness and I find myself speculating more than ever.
There is an aspect of my personality that is timid and shy. I have learned to bypass it and pursue every opportunity for writing, even if it is in area where I have no familiarity. Because of my passion for reading, I find anything can researched and anything can be written — if the passion is there. However, it is not easy to establish yourself as a writer without someone having trust in your abilities and skills. There are people out there willing to give an aspiring writer a chance. You just have to keep knocking on every door until you find them. Courage and resolve are the force that transform passion to profession.
Writers should always be challenged to not sell their identity, personality, or strengths for a mighty buck, nor should they sell authenticity for the ease and convenience of quick production. Wikipedia refers to “Authenticity” as “the truthfulness of origins, attributions, commitments, sincerity, devotion, and intentions.” It is one thing to research and visit other sources to assist in familiarizing yourself with a person, place or thing; do research, but it is another to present it as your own work. Plagiarism is nothing more than stealing. Including proper citations that give credit to the author of such information is always crucial in maintaining integrity in your writing.
Always be a first-rate version of yourself, instead of a second-rate version of somebody else. ~Judy Garland
Writing from one’s own experience and knowledge is always easier than writing about something of which one is unfamiliar. Writing from the heart and soul requires less effort and less thinking. The words flow from the fingertips as they dance away on the keyboard. But what about those times that you are contracted to produce written work on a topic that you absolutely know nothing about? It is very challenging. Do you take the time to learn about the subject? Do you research the subject guided by the “Five W’s?” To do so requires committed effort. It means requiring more turnaround time from your client. However, as a freelance writer, the strength of your integrity will take you further than being known in the profession as a plagiarizing mediocre writer with fast turnaround time. I do not know of any client who would want to pay top-dollar for a page of disingenuous writing they are forced to retract.
People continue to do business with those they trust. How does a freelance writer build their client base? Simply by producing work that is authentic from top to bottom, inside and out. Copyscape, a plagiarism checker, is an excellent tool accessible to anyone who wants to check the factual incorruptibility of any written work. This is a boon for clients who want to maintain integrity in the product they receive through contracted work with freelance writers.
Creative writer, Cindi Pugliese, sums it up best, “I can’t be whom I’m not. I can’t write poetry or scientific journals, nor do I want to. To do so would not be me, and so I write what I feel, I sense, I smell, I touch. I write about love and childhood dreams and adult fantasies. It’s all me.” So, even though it may be tempting to bid on a writing project that may be out of your area of expertise, experience or knowledge, be certain you are honest with your client. Be upfront with them and let them know that you will require a little more time than normal to learn about that of which you are to write.
In conclusion, simply be mindful that your integrity as a quality writer outshines your willingness to sell authenticity for monetary gain. Preserve the validity of your own work to assure you are recognized as a top-notch professional in the freelance world. Authenticity is the crux of professionalism.