A little help from friends: Editor's Notes, May 2002
Published: March 19, 2002
|One of my first freelance assignments was to cover a symposium on a German steel-smelting process. Looking for freelance work, I had happened to walk into the editor's office at Crain's Chicago Business just when he was looking for a body to cover the meeting.|
Though I knew nothing about steel-making, I was game (and green) enough to take it on. I had a little time for background research, but the material I came up with—pre-Internet—hardly prepared me for the highly technical presentation the next day.
More interested in the arts and literature than technology, I was out of my element in a room full of industrialists. The talk might as well have been in German for all that I understood.
Fortunately, I was sitting next to a knowledgeable—and sympathetic—steel manufacturer, who translated the technical jargon for me. With some time-consuming fact-checking and additional background research, I managed to sweat out a decent 10-inch news story, which ran in the next week's edition of the newspaper.
Given the amount of time I spent on it, the payment was negligible—but the experience was an invaluable confidence builder. I still had a lot to learn about the resourcefulness, discipline, resilience and business savvy it takes to be a freelance writer—I could have benefited from the advice of other, more experienced writers.
It's becoming a tradition at The Writer to bring you a spring "how-to" issue like this one, focusing on ways to enhance your writing career. You'll find solid advice on freelancing, improving your skills, earning more and promoting yourself.
Perhaps you're yearning for the independence, flexibility and diversity of freelancing full time, but are you ready for the challenges? Moira Allen's "Are you ready to take the plunge?" (page 34) will help you make this important decision.
Learn about interviewing from the master, Studs Terkel, who reveals his secrets to Ronald Kovach, senior editor of The Writer (page 26). Lynn Alfino offers "10 tips for top-notch interviews" (page 39). Kelly James-Enger shows you how to specialize and earn more (page 46) and Jodee Blanco gives tips on promoting your talents and expertise (page 32).
We hope you find this special issue energizing and inspiring as you work toward your writing goals.