Beat the Winter Freeze with Freelancing

winter freezeSometimes we just want to hibernate. Our minds freeze up and we can’t find the words that normally flow. There’s been a lot of talk about writer’s block out there lately and I think the winter freeze could be to blame. Even if our bodies aren’t hibernating, our minds may want to.

Whenever that happens, it helps to put the current project aside and work on a shorter one. Short stories are good for this, but I also enjoy freelancing for my local newspaper. Freelancing will force you into writing, writer’s block or not, because there will always be a looming deadline. But the best part is that it will bring you out into the world to talk with people who have stories to tell.

To do this, it’s as easy as contacting your local newspaper to ask if they need freelancers. Reporters are usually understaffed and they’ll be glad for the chance to unload a story or two. When I first worked as a reporter out of college, I got the job by visiting newspaper offices with my resumé and a writing sample. A tired reporter happened to be walking by and asked if I’d write a story as a freelancer. One story led to another and I ended up working there as a full-time reporter.

Freelancing is more fun than full-time reporting because it doesn’t involve town meetings where people argue until midnight about sidewalks or traffic lights. Since I have a regular day job now, I write feature articles every few weeks or so. No town meetings are involved and I love getting out there to talk with people about all the exciting things they’ve done. It will make you realize how true it is that stories are everywhere and that will melt any writer’s block away.

Do you have any questions about reporting or freelancing? What do you do to beat the winter freeze?

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40 thoughts on “Beat the Winter Freeze with Freelancing

  1. Sometimes I think I should submit articles for publication. My medical background could help me in this regard. But much of my writing time is already taken by other responsibilities, and I feel when I write, I want to spend it on my novel. Of course, I realize publishing outside articles might prove a good marketing tool, but that still doesn’t offer me enough incentive. Maybe I’m just lazy. 🙂

    • Luckily, writing articles won’t take up as much time as novels! 🙂 It could only take a day or two or even just a few hours. It’s a nice break and I’m sure your local newspaper or any health magazine would love to have you write articles about healthy living. It might even give you some added material for your next book.

  2. This is something I understand! Freelancing has brought me back up from dark days more than once. Sometimes it’s just the change of pace you need.

  3. We all need inspiration. Sometimes too we benefit from leaving the focus of our attention behind and concentrating on something different. Gives the mind and thoughts a holiday. That can enrich what we are working on when we return to it.

    • That’s the way it is for me too because I’m less likely to go outside in the winter. 🙂 Hope you’re enjoying your paradise – I can’t wait to see the pictures!

  4. I am using my blog as change of pace and style from novel – and of course you get a bit of interaction through comments too! I also have varied course work to hand in for yoga training – anatomy, philosophy, practice journal/evaluation, learning/teaching stuff…this seems to be all I can cope with just now, but I’d never thought of offering my services to local paper and I’ll bear it in mind for future!

    • Blog posts are a good way to do it since any short writing project helps. Probably what I like most about the newspaper articles is the chance to get out there and talk with people like beekeepers, glassblowers, or musicians. It’s inspiring just talking with them and always fun to learn the details of what they do (and you never know, some of those details could help in future fiction projects).

  5. There are opportunities to write for local papers/websites here, but they’re all “free”, as in not paid, ever. I wouldn’t mind providing materials once in a while but these publications rely way too much on nice/gullible people to contribute, while they pocket in their advertising dollars. I have contributed photos though, but only with my watermark and only on sites where I keep all copyrights. The copyright issue is big today!

    • That’s strange, although I’m familiar with being taken advantage of by some newspapers that figure they don’t have to pay full-time reporters much. But for freelancing, the local newspaper pays $50-75 per article and magazines will pay more. It could be worth it to write one or two free articles to use as writing samples for the newspapers or magazines that will pay. I was thinking of freelance photography while writing this too since newspapers are so understaffed, but then I guess there can be copyright issues with that.

      • California is really, really cheap. And since people offer to do these things for free, publications often don’t bother with compensation. I would think publications like photos but yes, it all depends what happens to the copyright…

    • It sounds like you’ve got your hands full for now with moving your house! But that could also be good material for a magazine article on the inside view of house moving. I’m guessing not many people have been adventurous enough to try anything like that.

      • I’m writing every part of it down (especially the hidden expenses) so hopefully one day I can get it out there so if anyone else wants to do something as crazy as this they know what they’re in for 😉

    • It’s a lot of fun and worth it to get away from the computer and talk with people in town. Another way to do it is to think up something you’d really enjoy writing about and ask the local paper if they’d be interested in an article on that.

  6. I’m not a writer but I do love your idea. Seems that there are a number of local town newspapers who would welcome freelancers. Great way to practice your skill…hmmm, maybe I can apply this to photography!

    • Yes – local newspapers are usually understaffed with writers and photographers. I was going to add the photography part into this post but didn’t want to end up with too many words. 🙂 While reporting, I did a lot of photography for the newspaper just because the regular photographer couldn’t be everywhere at once. So I’m sure any newspaper or magazine would love to be able to show off your photos!

  7. This sounds like something for the “to consider” pile if I ever find myself with some extra time. Something on local history or archaeology would probably go over well….

    • That would be perfect and it could turn into fiction material later on. There are a lot of historical magazines out there too (for both fiction and nonfiction).

  8. I usually edit but when in writing my church articles and lessons, my motivations always what I hear and see around me as a need. Others always drop hints, don’t you think?

  9. I know I should do this, but I’m such an introvert. I don’t think I’d do well interviewing people face-to-face, or going somewhere to get the lowdown of what just happened. I also get very tongue-tied with strangers. However, I could probably handle freelancing my own articles and submitting them to various venues to see if I get any bites. Good thing to think about, Sheila. Thanks.

    • You can do it! 🙂 I’m an introvert too and sometimes I wonder how I survived as a reporter. I just wanted to write and didn’t fully realize I’d also have to call people or walk up to them in some public place and start asking questions. But then everyone was always incredibly nice. Sometimes they’d end up talking for hours and wouldn’t want to stop because it gave them a chance to talk about the things they loved. So it can be a lot of fun. The Writer’s Market lists most magazines and the kinds of articles they look for – that helps if you already have a few article ideas. For now though, the best option might be hibernation. Good luck with the snowstorm!

  10. Great advice. I have always wanted to write but I seem incapable of writing that novel I have gone on about for the last 15 years. Blogging is my small beginning and hopefully a confidence-builder. Perhaps I’ll try the local newspaper to see if there are any feature opportunities – I think that the more I get out there and write, the more likely that novel becomes!:)

    • That’s great! It does help to get into the routine of writing, especially because of those deadlines. While reporting, there’s no such thing as writer’s block. I know what you mean about the years it can take to write a novel. Thankfully, article writing doesn’t take that long. 🙂

    • You could try writing an article about living in France and submitting that to travel magazines or the travel section of a newspaper. I’m sure any publication would love to publish your photos along with the article too!

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