To do good writing, read good writing. Here’s the good writing I’ve been reading this week:
Taming the feral freelancer (The Science Writer’s Handbook) – Freelance science writer Brian Vastag wasn’t sure he could go back to a staff writer job, and neither were the Washington Post editors who took a chance and hired him anyway. He writes:
“You were a freelancer,” said one of my editors eventually. “We didn’t know if you’d be able to come in and, you know, work here.”
Meaning: “We had no way of telling if you were a poorly-socialized freak.”
Love it. BTW, two years in, Vastag’s doing just fine.
The most successful skill for successful freelancing (Hint: It isn’t writing) (The Freelance Strategist) – It’s setting up habits, rituals and schedules so you spend less time and energy deciding little things, which frees up more time for bigger ones, like writing, according to writer, teacher and editorial strategist Jessica Adamiak. Even Obama follows this strategy, as Michael Lewis shares in the October 2012 Vanity Fair profile of the president. “You’ll see I wear only gray or blue suits,” Obama tells Lewis. “I don’t want to make decisions about what I’m eating or wearing. Because I have too many other decisions to make.” What are your writer’s rituals?
Relax! You’ll be more productive (New York Times) – Speaking of productivity, there’s a lot to be said for not working round the clock, writes Tony Schwartz. “The best way to get more done may be to spend more time doing less,” so your brain has time to recharge, he says. Freelancers, this means you’ll be more productive if you take vacations and don’t work weekends.
Jonah Lehrer apologizes, makes everyone angrier (Poynter) – The science writer’s first post plagiarism scandal speech didn’t turn out exactly as planned. He wasn’t exactly contrite, and it didn’t help that Knight Center wasn’t exactly forthcoming about paying him a $20,000 speaking fee, a fact that when it came out, created a mini-uproar in j-circles.
Blogonomics, Maria Popova edition (Reuters) – Felix Salmon, the wire service’s media watchdog, attempts to reverse engineer how much money the Brain Pickings blogger makes as a way into discussing why sometimes crowdsourcing creative ventures works and sometimes it doesn’t. His conclusion: she’s making a lot, enough that she shouldn’t also have to maintain the virtual tip jar that’s on her site. Popova takes exception to Salmon’s analysis in a very forthcoming response that he posts at the end of the column. She doesn’t exactly come out and say how much the site makes, though she does share that running it costs about $3,600 a month, not including her time. That’s a lot of dough.
10 with Shane Snow (Quill) – The Society of Professional Journalists sits down (virtually speaking) with the Contently co-founder to find out exactly what the company does. Snow doesn’t do the best job of explaining, which is too bad considering I know a lot of writers who’d like to know. I’ll try: Contently is a web-based editorial management tool that freelancers can use to post online portfolios and find work, and publishers can use to find writers and manage publishing projects. And no, as far as I can tell, it’s not a content farm. Read the Q&A to find out more. Or stay tuned for my own Q&A with Contently coming soon.
Should journalists learn to code (Ebyline’s The News Hook) – In a word, yes – to a point, writes Yael Grauer. Dabbling in a lot of things won’t get you anywhere, she quotes Nieman Journalism Lab founder Josh Benton saying. Better to focus on writing and be up to speed on HTML, content management system software like WordPress and Drupal, metrics such as Google Analytics, and the basics of search engine optimization.
[Flickr photo by mape_s]