Lessons Learned as a Free-Lance Writer

The A-to-Z Blogging Challenge is over. My thanks to those of you who joined me (if only once or twice) in my journey from A to Z. I’m feeling a bit “blogged out” and have asked my long time friend and fellow writer, Ardyce Czuchna-Curl, if she would take over my blog today and impart some of lessons she’s learned as a free-lance writer. (Oh, and on Saturday, I would love it if you would stop by Pam Thibodeaux’s blog site http://pamswildroseblog.blogspot.com and see my blog about A Killer Past.)

Now here’s Ardyce…

Ardyce Czuchna-Curl

Ardyce Czuchna-Curl

What I’ve learned in 48 years of writing

If you want to be a writer, you must write.

Only words you put on paper or on the computer count. Talking about writing doesn’t count.  Everyone has time to write. Setting aside a regular time is great, but you can write early in the morning, late at night, at your hairdresser’s, in the dentist’s waiting room or wherever,

Look for opportunities wherever you are.

I wrote articles for the Skagway, Alaska and Sitka, Alaska newspapers when I was there volunteering and/or working for the National Park Service. I did the same in Sitka, Alaska. I’ve traveled in seven continents and published at least one article about nearly every trip.

Never miss a deadline.

An editor can’t use your material if it isn’t available at press time. And if he/she actually has something in hand early, it might fill a sudden ”hole” in a page. (This is true for books, too. If your ms is ready and another author doesn’t deliver, your book may suddenly fill a hole in the schedule.)

Keep promises.

I was covering a blossom queen event in southwest Michigan when I would rather have been at the U. of Michigan at a workshop for parents that my son, a senior there, had invited me to attend. But I had to meet the deadline for the article I’d promised.

You can write about almost anything if you find the right angle.

While in Las Vegas with my husband, who was attending a conference, I wrote “What to do in Vegas if you don’t gamble.”

Write, revise, rewrite.

Tighten. Learn to spell. Use the dictionary.  Spell check is helpful, but don’t rely on it completely.

Send thank you notes to people you’ve interviewed.

They often have suggestions for more articles.

Join professional organizations.

I belonged to Michigan Press Women and National Federation of Press Women more than 35 years. I learned from speakers and workshops, but also from contacts with other members who suggested story ideas about people or events in their neighborhood.

Join a local writers’ group

Or organize one to share ideas and markets and critique each other’s work. But remember, no talking about what you didn’t have time to write or what you’re going to write.

Find a genre that suits you.

I’ve self-published a fiction book for middle grades and a non-fiction book for adults. I marketed them myself and sold more than 2,000 copies of each. Non-fiction suits me better than fiction

Study the market

So you submit to the right markets. And don’t let rejections get you down. Keep submitting.  Manuscripts in a drawer don’t sell.

If you have a book published,

Be prepared to do book talks, signings at schools, libraries, organizations, and bookstores. If they offer to pay you, great. If not, do it anyway. It’ll promote your book, and they’ll probably allow you to sell your books. If you self publish, you’ll have to do all the promotion yourself.

Good luck!

Ardyce Czuchna-Curl has been a freelance writer more than 48 years. A former English and physical education teacher, she has a B. A. from Huntington University and an M. A. from Michigan State University. She is the author of Mountains and Rainbows—Modern Pioneers – how Alaska changed their lives, (http://goo.gl/AenMhN) and Days of Gold (a Klondike Gold Rush adventure for young readers) (http://goo.gl/BTXE00), both published by Oak Woods Media. She has written, marketed and sold hundreds of freelance articles, including human-interest, travel, food and home features for magazines and newspapers. She wrote and edited corporate newsletters. She lives near Kalamazoo, Michigan in a pine and oak woods with her husband David Curl where now she occasionally works on memoirs for her children and grandchildren. She regrets not asking her parents and grandparents more about their early lives.
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4 Responses to Lessons Learned as a Free-Lance Writer

  1. Great advice for all of us who write! Thanks for sharing.

  2. Melissa Keir says:

    Great Advice! I’m always surprised at how much people forget about the first one…write! Just writing does so much to help you improve!

    • Maris SouleMaris Soule says:

      I’ve been so busy working on publicity for my two books, I haven’t done any writing on my short story or new story idea. I need to get back to that…and soon! Thanks for the reminder.