Freelance Basics for New Writers

Alyice Edrich, who runs the Dabbling Mum (an excellent website for freelancers, BTW) presents in this article some important basic skills every freelancer needs. Among these, she mentions the need for a thick skin, some patience and at least a little humility. She also touches on query letter writing, invoicing and researching markets.

All in all, it's a great article for anyone who is considering writing on a professional basis.

Help! I Want to be a Freelance Writer! - Alyice Edrich

And if you'd like to see more articles of this quality, come see the list over at WriterSpot. It's a carefully selected group, with great care taken to weed out the fluff, the shallow and the obviously rehashed.


Instant Query Letters?

Here's an excellent post by Diana Burrell, author of 'The Renegade Writer'. She reviews one of many 'Instant Query Letter' sites, which essentially are hightech MadLibs in basic query format.

Instant Query - just add words

My Writing Articles

Writing Articles by Brian Westover

12 Surefire Brainstorming Techniques - Are you stuck in a mental rut? Battling writer's block? Perhaps you're simply looking for new ideas. When your creativity flies the coop, these 12 techniques will snag your muse, bring it home and whip it into shape! If you can reason and write a list, you can brainstorm!

10 Simple Steps - Basics of the Writing Process - Even the professional writer can use the occasional brush-up on the basics! This simple overview of the writing process will show you how to start with only an idea and nurture it into a full grown article or even book.

Before You Write - Effective writers learn quickly that the most important keys of writing are preparation and planning. Before you even take a pen to the page, lay a solid foundation by using the pre-writing process outlined here.

The 10 Question Topic Test - It's difficult to take your unsorted, unpolished ideas and decide which are saleable ideas and which aren't. It's just as hard trying to develop those ideas for a query. Here are ten questions to apply to your idea to determine what markets it fits, how well it will sell and how to flesh it out for both a query letter and a full article.

WriterSpot - The Online Writer's Resource!

Back in August, I started a tiny little website to keep track of the cool websites I found about writing. There are so many articles and newsletters and free eBooks and eCourses and the like that it's almost impossible to quickly find what you need.

So, to save myself the time of having to dig through all the searches and websites and links, I created WriterSpot. I then started listing all of the cool writing stuff I had found at that point.

I put links to great websites, links to articles, links to newsletters, and links to free e-courses. Then, as I began learning more about the world of professional writing, I wrote some articles on the few topics I understood. (Don't get me wrong, I still understand very little.)

Eventually, it occurred to me that others would want to benefit from my work of sifting through the junk that floats freely through the internet. Surely, I'm not the only writer trying to get a handle on the profession, right?

In fact, what if, in addition to a helpful listing of all the free quality resources I could find, I also included the best deals on the best writing related products? Ah ha! I had struck upon the idea - turn my education into my job. So, I've added a few (a very few, at that) affiliate links, and started this blog to boost traffic a little. Will it work? Who knows. Will it improve my writing, increase my knowledge of writing and possibly even help my career? There's a real possibility!

So, WriterSpot is now being promoted. This blog serves as an extension of WriterSpot, and thus is part of said promotion. I hope it's helpful, I hope it's useful. Please feel free to comment on anything. Tell me what works, what doesn't, and what is just a waste of time. Suggest websites, suggest articles, and suggest anything else that is useful and helpful to the freelance writer.

John Hughes - Notes & Quotes

John Hughes is the editor and chief operating officer of the Deseret Morning News in Salt Lake City. He is former editor of The Christian Science Monitor. Before joining the Deseret Morning News he was a professor of journalism and director of the International Media Studies Program at Brigham Young University. He served as U.S assistant secretary of state, assistant secretary-general of the United Nations, and chaired presidential and Congressional commissions on international broadcasting. John has received a Pulitzer Prize, the Overseas Press Club award and is the former president of the American Society of Newspaper Editors.

I recently had the chance to meet John Hughes, who held a brief Q&A/Seminar with the staff of our student newspaper. Though he spoke primarily about the newspaper business, most of what he saids translates over to any field of writing. Posted here are a selection of direct quotes from the seminar, and some very brief notes touching on each.

“You probably aren’t going straight from college to the Times.”

Start small, and then move up. This is an established industry, which means you’ll have to work your way up. To do this, you’ll need to be ambitious. Go for opportunities aggressively. Show initiative. Work for it.

“Newspapers aren’t there to give you an opportunity. They’re very self-centered; they want to know what you can do for them.”

Professionals know that this is a business, not a hobby.

Research any market or publication before you approach them; if you can’t actually do something for them, you’re wasting your time.

Query like a professional.

Be absolutely professional about contacts, editors, money, deadlines, edits, rewrites, etc.

Don’t just act like a professional, write like one too.

“Reporters are strange animals.”

Mr. Hughes spoke for a moment about how difficult it is to keep reporters from working more than 40-50 hours a week, saying that often, they’ll want to keep writing into the night, just because they love what they do.

Be passionate about your profession. Use that passion.

Love writing well, being complete, being accurate and thorough; when you love what you do, and do it because you love it, you can go far.

“None of you are going into journalism for the money.”

Yes, there is money in our profession, but it’s rare that anyone gets rich. Do it because it drives you. Do it because you live for it.

“Everybody is owned by somebody.”

“I don’t mind photographers who push the envelope, so long as they do what they’re told in the end.”

You work for the people that pay you. The only way you get paid is by meeting an editor’s needs. If you can’t do that, you’ll never see print and you’ll never see a paycheck.

“You must, absolutely must, keep up with technology in this business.”

As writers, we’re blessed to see writing opportunities coming up in every form of media. We have to know these new areas to take advantage of those opportunities.

The more versatile the writer, the better.


Just to Introduce Myself - Brian Westover

My name is Brian Westover. I'm currently a college student at Brigham Young University - Idaho, studying Communications and Journalism. I'm a writer. Pleased to meet you.

To learn more about me, check out my bio on my professional site.

To learn more about WriterSpot, check it out here. Basically, this blog is an extension of WriterSpot, allowing me to post information on updates, provide more extensive detail on various links, and to allow feedback as well.


First Post - Big News

I am so excited, I could do a jig! In the next two days, I'll have the opportunity to meet with some seriously successful people in the writing world.

Every Semester, our Communications Department holds a Communication Day, where a panel of top Comm. Professionals meet with students, hold seminars, answer questions, etc. Tomorrow is Comm. Day, which I was already excited for. However, I just found out that it's gotten even better.

Today, the entire staff of the Scroll, BYU - Idaho's student paper, get to have our own session with John Hughes, Pulitzer Prize Winner and editor and Chief Operating Editor of the Deseret Morning News in Salt Lake City, Utah.

That's right, a Pulitzer Prize winner and major newspaper editor. I'll be taking copious notes and posting those notes here, and will probably turn it into an article or two.

Watch this Spot - WriterSpot!