>In a great article in the latest American Society of Journalists and Authors (ASJA) newsletter,Melanie Lasoff Levs tells how having a child has changed her whole freelance perspective. First, she is suddenly most interested in writing about parenting and children where those were never her specialties before. Second, she has learned to be selective about the work she does because her time is so limited. She can no longer accept assignments that don’t pay well or that require extensive travel. She’s leaning more toward parenting articles and essays. She has always been a writer, but now she’s learning to combine her writer self with her new mother self. It’s a good piece with lots of helpful suggestions.
Now, I don’t have children, but I do have a disabled husband. And you know what? The same thing has happened to me. Suddenly I’m grabbing newspapers and magazines related to caregiving and to his ailment and writing reams about our experiences.
For writers, especially freelancers, I don’t think one can avoid having life experiences influence what you write. In fact, I keep a note on my desk that says, “Write the story you are given.” Melanie is suddenly immersed in stories about motherhood. I’m deep into stories about caregiving. Years ago when I was a full-time stepparent to an adolescent, I wrote parenting stories myself because taking care of Michael was on my mind. What stories have you been given? Too often we look all over the place for subjects to write about when they’re right in front of us.
By the end of the week, I’ll give you a link to a new piece I’ve written called “Writing in the Nooks and Crannies,” for anyone trying to balance writing with an overloaded life. Stay tuned. Meanwhile, as we start a new year, I think back to a professor whom I considered a little nuts at the time. She went around the room asking us one by one, “What is your theme?” Now I don’t think she’s so crazy. What is your theme?
Note: The American Society of Journalists and Authors is a great organization. It’s not for beginners; you have to qualify with high-level publications to join, and the dues are a bit high, but its services are extremely helpful. Even better, they make a large portion of their newsletter available for free to anyone who wants to get on their mailing list. You can read years of back issues and will definitely find something useful. In fact, the January issue also includes some great–and unique–tips for getting more work done. Check it out at ASJA.org.