Blog Tour: My Writing Process

Photo: Scottchan,

Photo: Scottchan,

I was tagged by the fantastic Northern Virginia writer Amanda Miska to participate in this blog tour and I’m tagging Hawaii freelance writer Brandi-Ann Uyemura and Wiesbaden, Germany-based Melissa Gillam Shaw of Marrying The Army. We’re going beyond coast-to-coast now. Enjoy!

What am I working on?

Some really fun stuff. I recently wrote a piece on wellness tourism for Virginia Living magazine during which I got to try a cosmetic acupuncture session. I also just submitted my first story for Dog Fancy on dogs who accompany their owners to unusual job sites (think: Parliament, Congress, the cockpit of a plane). Let’s see … I have a story on plastic surgery trends coming out soon for Northern Virginia magazine (hint: the backside is back) and I just finished writing the eighth annual edition of Green Hawaii: a 32-Page Guide to Living a Greener Life for Hawaii Home + Remodeling magazine. Oh, and my latest story for Farm Life magazine, on the trend toward small hay farming, is out now, too. I got to get up-close and personal with a few gorgeous horses for that one.

Truth be told, I’ve got a bit of deadline whiplash right about now, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I love totally immersing myself in my work.

Next up? Hmmmm … I’m in the beginning stages of proposing a style book with a potential co-writer — drafting the proposal this week, actually — and I just signed on to review an awesome new version of one of my favorite small-business software programs. I can’t tell you which one yet. The launch is a huge secret, so stay tuned to this blog for details.

Deep breath …

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

That’s a great question. Honestly, it’s one I’m still trying to figure out. My cadence is pretty direct and my humor can be dry at times. I love Ernest Hemingway’s minimalist style, so my goal this year is to try to become more concise. I tend to write long and detailed copy, so the endeavor is paradoxically tough for me. I also tend to lean more toward the formal than the casual in tone, so I’m working on loosening up a little bit. Not too much, though. I don’t want to lose my voice. Look to your right. See the collar I’m wearing in my “About” photo? My writing is like that collar: colorful, but still comparatively buttoned up.

Why do I write what I do?

I’ve been a lifestyle magazine addict since college. I’ve always loved solution-oriented and how-to content geared toward foodies, runners, moms, investors, small-business owners and style seekers. Lifestyle magazines are aspirational and I embrace that thought wholeheartedly. But they must also inform and tell the truth. Therein lies my goal: to make content that is always beautiful, true, unique and lasting.

How does my writing process work?

I’m very methodical. As soon as I receive a new project, I create a timeline in my listing-software program that includes both internal and external deadlines. I research sources for two to three days and create a source list from that research. Then, I begin contacting my sources and setting up interviews. The actual interviews follow, then transcription, outlining and finally, writing. The writing part actually takes the least amount of time (about a day). I like to work in at least three days, five if i’m lucky, for revisions before turning my work over ot my client. It doesn’t always work out that way, but I’m trying to improve. You can read more about my writing process here.

A note about process: A lot of people think the job of a freelance writer is a romantic one that involves furiously scripting large amounts of amazing prose whenever inspiration strikes (meals, sleep, kids, pets, spouses and obligations be damned!). Many believe this type of inspired work is perfect from the get-go. But the reality is, even the ever-imaginative Roald Dahl was regimented in his process (read about that here). I don’t wait for inspiration to write (I’d never make a living!) but when it does strike randomly, I make sure I have something on hand to record it with and a place to store it for later use. I’m terrified of losing the ideas that pop into my head, and that’s how I keep my phobia in check.

If I could impart just one bit of process advice to would-be freelancers, it would be this: Don’t be so hard on yourself if inspirational lightning bolts don’t strike daily. Treat your freelance writing career as a business. Schedule in time to write and do it, whether you feel like it or not. Trust me, the words will come.

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