#SquadGoals: Why Every Freelancer Needs a Writing Community

Do you have a freelance writing squad? Can you name at least five editors and writers who support your work, give you opportunities and help your career grow?

A lot of early-career freelancers focus on getting clients and clips, or pitching those higher-paying gigs — but while you’re building your portfolio, you should also be building your squad.

Why do you need a freelance squad?

Freelance writing is often a solo act, and it’s no secret that a lot of writers are introverts. Who needs people when you have the blank page, right?

Well…you still need people, and I don’t just mean “that client you email once a week with a project status update.” Building a group of editors, writers and friends who both support and help you is essential to your freelance — and, dare I say, personal — growth.

Your squad is different from your network. If you’ve been freelancing for a while, you’ve probably built up at least a small network: your current clients, your previous clients, that editor who invited you to pitch their publication, the freelancer you met at an event and friended on Facebook, etc.

But that doesn’t mean you have a squad. A network is aware of your existence. A squad wants you to succeed.

If you find yourself falling short of your income goal, for example, you could email someone in your network asking if they know of any gigs and they’d probably send a polite response back. Someone in your squad would already know you were looking for work and be ready with a potential new lead.

How do you find your squad?

You might have already found a few squad members without realizing it.

Do you have an editor who always replies quickly to your emails, gives you constructive feedback, asks you to contribute more work and passes along new opportunities? That person is on your squad.

You might have another editor or client who gives you steady work and pays on time, but never offers any bigger projects or higher-profile opportunities. That person is not on your squad. This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t work for them, it’s just to note that they are not actively invested in helping you grow.

Same goes for other writers. You might already have a freelance bestie who is ready to offer an extra pair of eyes on a draft or recommend you for a new gig. You might know a writer who consistently promotes your work on social media or gives you good advice in a forum or Facebook group. These people could be your squad members.

If you don’t yet know those editors or writers, here’s how to find them:

  • Keep pitching. You can’t meet an editor who loves your work until you pitch them.
  • Join writing groups and online forums. Writing groups like Carol Tice’s Freelance Writers Den are often great places to get to know people. You can also join The Write Life’s Facebook community!
  • Meet other freelancers in person. Go to conferences, join Meetup groups or ask local freelancers if they’d like to get a cup of coffee. Introverts: here are some good conversation starters to help build those IRL friendships.

A note about social media: Sites like Twitter used to be one of the best ways to meet other writers, but the way we use social media has shifted. Following or replying to someone on social media is not necessarily going to lead to a professional relationship the way it might have a few years ago. People are now building those kinds of relationships in private forums and online groups — which means you’ll need to figure out where those are and which ones are accepting new members.

#SquadGoals go both ways

Your squad is there to support you, but you need to support them as well.

If you know that a publication is hiring, it’s time to tell your friend that they might be perfect for this gig. If one of your most supportive editors puts out a call for pitches, you should respond — even if it’s to say “I wish I could take this on but I’m fully booked right now.”

Your goal as a writer is to build your career — but you can do a lot towards building your squad’s careers, too. Share their articles online. Recommend them to other people. Offer to be a beta reader and provide constructive feedback. Be present in the forums or Slack channels when they need to vent.

Be aware that good squads are often small. You can provide better support to a few select people than you can to everyone in your writing forum — you don’t have time to read everyone’s first drafts, after all. It might take a while to figure out who in your network should become a member of your core squad. (You might also have the experience of thinking you’re in someone’s squad when they consider you part of their larger network. Don’t take it personally.)

With a squad by your side, you’ll have a group of people whom you know you can trust. You’ll also be building the types of friendships and professional relationships that many people find in a traditional workplace. All of this will help you both personally and professionally — and, even if you are an introvert, having a squad will make your freelance career a lot more fun.

Do you have a freelance squad? How did you find your people? Share your #squadgoals in the comments!

Nicole Dieker is a freelance writer and a Senior Editor at The Billfold. Her debut novel, The Biographies of Ordinary People, was published in May 2017.

The post #SquadGoals: Why Every Freelancer Needs a Writing Community appeared first on The Write Life.


Source: Writer Life

By | 2017-08-14T05:44:25+00:00 August 14th, 2017|Categories: Uncategorized|Tags: |

NWP Radio—Literacy and Mobility

Wednesday, August 09, 2017
Type: Event
How can looking at the movement of people, language, and things enrich our understandings of students and schools? Join us for an intriguing conversation with host Tom Fox and guest Brice Nordquist, Assistant Professor of Writing and Rhetoric at Syracuse University and author of Literacy and Mobility: Complexity, Uncertainty, and Agency at the Nexus of High School and College.
Source: The National Writing Project

By | 2017-08-12T01:50:01+00:00 August 12th, 2017|Categories: Uncategorized|Tags: |

Get Out of Your Own Way: 6 Creative Tips to Crush Writer’s Block

Let’s be honest — being a writer can be torture, right?

You know what you want to write and the goals you have are real, but sometimes life, excuses and your own fear can get in the way of success.

There is no magical unicorn that will make the process any easier, but if you make writing a daily habit where you allow room for mistakes and curiosity, you’re on your way to winning the battle.

How can you make writing be something you don’t dread when you stare at your computer?

1. Let your words be vomit on the computer

You have brilliant sparkling ideas dancing around in your head that you envision in such a glowing, perfect spotlight. You sit down to put human, imperfect words to those fantastical ideas and…barf.

You put barf on the screen.

You know what? That is the BEST place to start.

I enjoy writing the most when I give myself permission to let my words be projectile vomit on the computer screen.

You have an idea in your head right now of what you want to write about, don’t you? It’s so easy to ignore those ideas and convince ourselves they’re just ideas that wouldn’t lead to enough material to write about.

But you don’t know where the ideas will lead if you don’t try to find out. And finding out means a very messy drawing board and permission to majorly junk it up.

Instead of pressuring yourself to find perfection,I take a backseat and see where my writing goes. I write very incomplete, incoherent lists, ideas and images. Sometimes I’m able to go back and polish it up relatively quickly. Other times, I’m not, so I walk away and let it simmer, trying not to stress at the huge pile of incomplete garbage I just created.

The cool thing about ideas is that they evolve from day to day. I’ll be in the shower or driving to work, and the vomit I laid down on my computer soon starts to turn into something more cohesive. Sometimes it matches what was in my head, and sometimes it’s even better if I stay with it.

2. Quit playing the “writer’s block” card

Writer’s block is code for “I’m too intimidated I won’t crank out perfection, so I’ve decided to watch Netflix and eat ice cream instead because I know I won’t fail at that.”

No more. I won’t have it. You can do better.

If you follow step one of not caring that you have vomit on your computer screen, you will not be blocked.

The pressure is gone, and you’re left with you and your ideas, working together happily instead of scowling at the screen, wondering why you just couldn’t be something normal like an accountant.

Writer’s block is saying you’ve put the bar too high, and you’re afraid of not measuring up. Take the bar and put it much lower for the first writing session, so you have permission to simply play with your ideas and words instead of trying to whip them into submission.

3. Put some fire in your belly

Although writing should be an activity you look forward to, it’s not a bad idea to put some pressure on yourself to complete projects.

You have to put deadlines in place or else everything else will always come first like family, friends, work, binge-watching Top Chef — the list goes on.

I don’t have the luxury to be able to write all day, so I give myself an hour.

It cuts out the wiggle room to check Facebook or pet the dogs. The hour is my precious time to get to it without second-guessing myself. I almost never get done what I wanted to, but it leaves me hungry for more the next day, and hungry for writing is what I need to be when the alarm goes off at 5 a.m.

4. Stay organized before your ideas drift away

Part of holding yourself accountable is making sense of and organizing all the ideas bouncing around in your head.

Try using Trello to track your ideas and keep you on a solid, tangible path to completion rather than being overwhelmed by all you want to do. If you’re a visual person who likes to see how much you’re completing, this might really work for you.

And don’t let whispers of ideas get away from you. I jot down everything that zips through my head and go back to it. The other day I wrote “Facebook friends–not really even friends” in my Google docs document. I went back to it later in the week and started fleshing it out and quickly had a very successful blog post on my hands called,  “If I Die Tomorrow, Would My Facebook “Friends” Come to the Funeral?”

I didn’t know exactly where the piece was going, so I just jotted down the messy, imperfect ideas as they came to me, and eventually the ideas turned into solid sentences and new ideas I didn’t have when I started.

It was a thread I kept tugging at that started with an idea I had at my day job, but had I not started with the simple act of jotting down my ideas, the piece wouldn’t have been born because it would have remained trapped in my brain that is easily distracted and pulled.

5. Stop devoting all your time to reading books about being a better writer

It’s so great to learn from people who have more experience that they want to share with you, but constantly reading books on how to be a better writer is yet another excuse to not write.

Writing conferences and networking are important to keep your head in the game, but in order to be a part of that game, you first have to write.

There is no way around simply putting your butt in a chair to write.

6. Don’t wait for the perfect time to start writing

I used to be the master at doing everything under the sun before I would park my procrastinating butt down to write.

I would make excuses like, “I can’t focus on writing if the house isn’t clean.”

The truth is, there will always be something to pull us away from writing if we let it, but at the end of the day, if we do let it, it means we’re not making writing be an important part of our lives. And that means we won’t succeed.

The perfect time to write is right now because you are the only you in this world who will put your spin on ideas. We’re not looking for perfection — just you and your ideas you’ve given permission to dance imperfectly onto the screen.

These steps won’t magically lead you to a land of daily effortless writing. Writing is hard because you care about what you want to say and how you want to reach people. If you didn’t care, it wouldn’t be hard, and you wouldn’t be a writer.

Now, sit that butt down, write some garbage and keep coming back to it with patience and an open mind. Do the same tomorrow and the next day.

The post Get Out of Your Own Way: 6 Creative Tips to Crush Writer’s Block appeared first on The Write Life.


Source: Writer Life

By | 2017-08-12T01:49:12+00:00 August 11th, 2017|Categories: Uncategorized|Tags: |

'Annabelle' Scares Up an Impressive $4M from Thursday Previews

FRIDAY AM UPDATE: Annabelle: Creation got off to a great start last night, bringing in $4 million from Thursday previews, nearly doubling the $2.1 million in previews for Annabelle and topping the $3.3 million in previews for The Conjuring and the $3.4 million in previews for The Conjuring 2.

This doesn’t necessarily mean it will improve not the $37 million opening for Annabelle or near the $40+ million debuts for either Conjuring film as previews can be very front-loaded, but it does s…
Source: Box Office Mojo

By | 2017-08-12T01:49:43+00:00 August 10th, 2017|Categories: Uncategorized|Tags: |

Everything We’ve Ever Published About Getting Paid to Write

There’s one thing we know for sure about the community here at The Write Life:

You want to earn a living from your writing.

There are several paths to explore to get paid to write, but one in particular stands out among The Write Life’s readership: freelance writing.

With close to 900 posts published since The Write Life launched in 2013, our articles on freelance writing are among the most popular and widely-shared on the site.

We’ve rounded up 30+ blog posts and resources from The Write Life to help you land more writing jobs and get paid.

Where to find writing jobs

Publications that pay freelance writers

How to charge + getting paid

More freelance writing advice

Have other ideas for posts you’d like to see about writing on The Write Life? Let us know in the comments below.

The post Everything We’ve Ever Published About Getting Paid to Write appeared first on The Write Life.


Source: Writer Life

By | 2017-08-12T01:49:25+00:00 August 10th, 2017|Categories: Uncategorized|Tags: |

4 Protagonists We Don’t See Enough

by John Bucher (@johnkbucher)

We have a difficult problem in the storytelling world. Writers are told to write what they know. However, most writers that have historically broken through to bring their stories to our screens are white males. As a result, we have had an overwhelming number of stories about them and their culture. Of course, the answer to this problem is to empower more writers who do not identify as white males into the market. Does this mean, however, that writers should only create lead characters that match their own gender identity and ethnicity? Few would see that as the path toward the best storytelling environment, either.

There have been numerous examples of films where a writer has co-opted someone else’s story for great profit and in turn, made a mess of that story, because the writer did not truly understand the culture or characters from that world. That said, there are a variety of ways to approach stories from outside of what we know effectively. Research and interviews from within the culture of the story is a good starting place. Working on the story with a co-writer from within that culture or gender identity is another strong approach. And of course, if you are a writer that resonates with the ethnicity or gender identity of your protagonist, let this serve as an encouragement for how badly we need to hear your stories. While there are a wide variety of roadblocks and pitfalls, there are a number of protagonists we don’t see enough of on screen. Here are four of them.

Professional People of Color

The TV landscape has improved in the past few years with shows like ABC’s Scandal and HBO’s Insecure, but the film world has been slower to embrace people of color in professional roles as protagonists. Athletes, entertainers, and crime figures have all been archetypes that minorities regularly are cast as, but rarely do we see minorities play doctors, lawyers, and teachers. Asian and Indian actors are even more rare in these roles than their African American colleagues and, of course, men far outnumber women in these positions as well. The world is full of men and women from every ethnicity serving in professional roles. More scripts would do well to reflect this, especially with their protagonists.

Parents and Grandparents

It’s no secret that Hollywood has a fascination with youthfulness. Stories about parenthood are often only used as B-stories that complicate the protagonist’s life, making what they really want to do more difficult or humorous. Being a parent is a key part of someone’s identity. Seeing mothers and fathers in new and fresh contexts remains a rarely tapped field of opportunity. Grandparents get even less on-screen time, usually being relegated to tired stereotypes. Even when older actors are centrally featured in a story, it is often to show how they too are youthful. Exceptions do exist and are welcome changes of pace. The upcoming Victoria and Abdul looks to be a promising example from Stephen Frears, the filmmaker that has made a career of telling stories of parents and grandparents, including The Queen and Philomena.

People of Faith

An overwhelming number of people in the world claim belief in a power higher than themselves. However, religious faith is often seen as a weakness in a character or the butt of a joke. While supporting characters in Grey’s Anatomy and The Leftovers have been vocal about their faith, protagonists who believe are often harder to find. Granted, the faith community has an entire genre where every protagonist is a person of faith. However, these films are usually poorly told stories that are only meant to exist in a small bubble of evangelical Christianity. A wide array of faiths exist in the world, yet on-screen protagonists seem to reflect so few of them.

Women Whose Sexuality or Relationship Status Does Not Define Them

The conversation around the sexualization of women in film and television has been going on for decades. Progress has been made, but the discussion has become more nuanced and complex as subjective ideas about how these issues are defined and executed fill the spectrum. Sexuality is an important part of who we are. Stories that explore this should be welcome. However, the paths that lead to exploitation and debasement are many. Even when sexuality is not explicitly in focus, a woman’s relationship to a man is often what defines her in many modern stories. The progress that we have experienced in this area can be somewhat attributed to female storytellers finally getting to tell their own stories. However, male storytellers should not overlook building wholeness into characters simply because women have pushed their way into the conversation. Moving stories forward into deeper realms of beauty and truth is the responsibility of everyone.


John Bucher is a writer, speaker, and story consultant based out of Los Angeles. He is the author of several books including The Inside Out Story and Master of the Cinematic Universe: The Secret Code to Writing in the New World of Media. He has written for entities ranging from HBO to U.S.  Ambassadors. He teaches at The LA Film Studies Center and has conducted story seminars on five continents. He can be reached on Twitter @johnkbucher and through his site, tellingabetterstory.com.

Source: LA-Screenwriter

By | 2017-08-12T01:49:36+00:00 August 9th, 2017|Categories: Uncategorized|Tags: |

These 4 To-Do List Apps are Perfect for Freelance Writers

Planning on paper suits some freelancers very well…but if it’s not for you, you’ll want to find an app that’s easy to use.

Apps, rather than paper planners, suit freelancers who:

  • Like to work on the go — physical planners can be fairly heavy to tote around
  • Need to assign tasks to other people — perhaps a virtual assistant or a partner
  • Want to add notes or attachments to a task — not easy on paper!
  • Have a lot of recurring tasks — apps can make it effortless to track these

Here are four apps you might like to try out.The first three can all be used on mobile devices (smartphone/tablet), on the web or through downloaded software on your computer. The fourth is computer-only and can be installed on a USB pen if that suits your way of working.

1. Nozbe [$10/month]

(Image from www.nozbe.com)

I used Nozbe for a couple of years, and only recently transitioned to paper planning instead.

Nozbe’s “Pro” plan ($10/month, or $8/month if you want to pay for a whole year up-front) allows for two users, making this a great app if you want to share tasks with a virtual assistant or your spouse.

Although you don’t need to follow David Allen’s Getting Things Done (GTD) methodology to use Nozbe, it is designed with GTD in mind – so you can easily see a list of your “priority” tasks (“next actions”, in GTD’s lingo). Unsorted tasks go into your “inbox”, and from there, you can assign them to a project and (optionally) give them a “category” (like GTD’s “contexts”).

You can add comments and attachments to your tasks, so it’s easy to keep all the information you need in one place.

Nozbe incorporates a calendar, which will show all your tasks that have a due date. You can easily drag and drop tasks to different days on the calendar in this view.

2. Trello [free, or $9.99/month for more features]

(Image from www.trello.com)

Trello takes a very visual approach to task management, using boards, lists and cards.

You can easily drag a “card” (which may represent a task or a project like a whole blog post) from one list to another.

For instance, you might set up a board for “freelancing assignments”, with lists representing the different stages of each assignment – e.g. “pitch”, “draft”, “final draft”, “published”.

You can assign tasks to different people, if you’re working as a part of a team – and like with Nozbe, you can add comments and attachments to tasks.

There’s a calendar view in Trello, though you need to use a “Power-Up” to enable it before you can use it. (On the free plan, you’re limited to one Power-Up per board.)

Again, it works in a similar way to Nozbe: you can drag tasks onto different days to reschedule them.

3. Wunderlist [free; $4.99/month for more features]

(Image from www.wunderlist.com)

Wunderlist is a streamlined to-do list app that organizes by “tasks” and “sub-tasks.” It’s designed for individuals rather than teams (unlike Nozbe and Trello, which let you easily collaborate).

You can share whole lists with friends/family, but you can’t assign individual items on a list.

While you can set due dates and reminders for your tasks, Wunderlist doesn’t have a built-in calendar view, so if you want to put your tasks on a calendar, you’ll need to use Google Calendar, iCal, Outlook or another calendar that supports the iCalendar format.

If Nozbe and Trello seem too complex and you just want to track a few to-do lists, Wunderlist might be the best option for you.

4. The Journal [$64.95 one-time payment]

(Image from www.davidrm.com)

The Journal is a much older (though regularly updated) piece of software than the three apps above: the first version was launched in 1996. It’s designed for offline use.

I used The Journal for several years when I started freelancing; I installed it on a USB pen and carried it around when I was moving between different computers. If you don’t have a smartphone (or don’t want to use it for task tracking) and need to or prefer to work offline, The Journal might be a good solution for you.

As you might guess from the name, The Journal has a journaling focus! You can create dated entries (either for journal entries or as a daily calendar).

You can also create your own custom templates to use in your entries. I found the template feature useful when I wanted to have a specific list of tasks on a Monday, a different list for a Tuesday, and so on: I just made a template for each day of the week.

There’s also an undated “notebook” section of The Journal, which you can use as an Evernote alternative. You can use The Journal to post to your blog, so it could work well if you want something that allows you to have a calendar and daily to-do list in the same place as all your actual writing.

There are dozens of apps out there that work in similar ways to the four listed here – and it’s easy to get stuck trying to make a decision.

I’d definitely recommend  you pick something that seems a good fit for you, get it set up as soon as possible and try it for at least three weeks. No app will work for you if you don’t actually use it.

All four tools I’ve included here have either a free version or offer a free trial, so you can give them a go before deciding whether or not to stick with them.

Have you used any of these apps…or is there a different one that you love? Or do you prefer to use a paper planner? Let us know in the comments.

The post These 4 To-Do List Apps are Perfect for Freelance Writers appeared first on The Write Life.


Source: Writer Life

By | 2017-08-02T05:44:55+00:00 August 2nd, 2017|Categories: Uncategorized|Tags: |

The I Am From Project

Friday, July 28, 2017
Type: Resource
This conversation with George Ella Lyon and Julie Landsman, hosts of the I Am From Project, is about countering divisions of race, culture, and background through poetry, artwork, videos, music, and dance.
Source: The National Writing Project

By | 2017-08-01T18:45:08+00:00 August 1st, 2017|Categories: Uncategorized|Tags: |