Savvy Freelance Writer

The Craft of Narrative Nonfiction


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17 Hats

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I am convinced that if I just find the way that works for me, I can not only accomplish everything I plan to do in a timely fashion, but without the overwhelming feeling of impending doom that currently haunts my days.

In my seemingly never-ending search for a way to track work and projects and tasks and money and leads and everything else that goes with being a one-person show, I have come across 17hats, an app that seems to do what it promises.

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Productivity

Questioning_xlWhile it’s true that the single most important aspect of productivity is to actually sit down and get to work, I wish it were that simple. I find writing nonfiction is a journey with several steps that do not necessarily proceed in a linear fashion. More distressing is the fact that some steps loop around and may repeat. It’s easy to feel frantic as the days pass and the deadline looms larger. To make it all work? I try to relax into my process.

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Creativity, Inc

CreativityIncI’ve just listened to a book about the creative process and managing creative people. This book – Creativity, Inc. by Ed Catmull – traces Catmull’s career, the genesis of computer animation, and the growth of Pixar, both pre- and post-Disney. As a co-founder of Pixar Animation Studios and recipient of the Gordon E. Sawyer Award for lifetime achievement in the field of computer graphics, Catmull definitely has the experience to back up his theories on the role and sustenance of creativity in the work place. His use of actual events to illustrate his points made the book even more useful to me.

This book piqued my interest for a number of reasons:
1. The switch from mainframes to PDAs has taken place in my professional lifetime.
2. I’ve always been curious about the development and introduction of computers in animation.
3. I often write about business and have an interest in Best Practices.
4. As a writer I find that I have a number of tricks that get me started and keep me going – but I could always use more.
5. I wanted to know if there was a replicable system or articulated set of assumptions and practices that led to the string of Pixar successes.

I found material that covered all of the above, as well as a very loving remembrance of Steve Jobs that I did not expect.

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Tracking Freelance Work

AssignmintI’m determined to be ultra-organized this year. I re-did my office over winter break so that I have clearly defined areas for each type of work. I also did a thorough search for some sort of database for tracking queries, book proposals, and contracted work for magazines and books. I was ready to create a database in FileMaker, but really didn’t want to add that to my To Do list.

The tracking program I discovered is Assignmint. Happily, this Web-based application is doing what I need, far better than what I would have created.   Continue reading


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Favorite Childhood Games

Musical ChairsIt’s occurred to me that the games we loved or hated as kids actually tell us a lot about ourselves as adults. I know. It’s the kind of thing you think about when listening to your child conjugate verbs before a quiz, but sometimes that’s all the time you’ve got…

I hated musical chairs. I hated the anxiety of waiting for the music to end. I hated the physical confrontation with the kid who was trying to push me off the chair we both needed. In short – I was a musical chair weenie who did not feel the Fun with Dick and Jane magic of the moment.

loved kick the can. Racing up to send that can soaring and running on to hide again – I was born for that. Same for kickball. The ball was so big and soft, it wasn’t going to hurt anyone. Plus, you were aiming for the legs. All you needed to do was kick your hardest and run like crazy.   Continue reading


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2014 Organized or Bust

orderchaos_xlI’m determined to be more organized in 2014. I know, everyone says things at the start of a new year that they mean but don’t achieve. I think this year it is a matter of do it or give it up entirely. So here goes.

I. I broke the things requiring my attention into categories. I figure my span of control is about five categories – there’s that MBA piping in again. So far I’ve used four and they are, in no particular order:

  1. Speculative projects – Queries, Blogging, Platform, Freelance
  2. Contracted projects – Client1, Client2, Client3, Client4
  3. Continuing education – Certifications, Conferences, Reading
  4. Family/Household – Kids, Household


II. I have one marble notebook that has all the ToDos. I’ve been using it since August and it is working better than any ToDo scheme ever. Continue reading


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Managing the Juggle

TheJuggle_sThe fantasy of the freelance life is that you are your own boss, free to call the shots, work as you like, and pick the assignments that suit your interests. All of that is true when the economy is booming and there’s a lot of work to be had. When things are tight, it’s a bit more frantic with a lot less choice.

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