When I first set out on my maiden assignment as an independent foreign stringer, I was young, inexperienced, and taking a giant step into the unknown. From one angle, it was scary. But from another vantage point, the move represented the most exciting opportunity of my fledgling career.
Just saying the words "technical writer" is enough to make aspiring scribes shudder. Once upon a time, I certainly did. But now that I've been a veteran in the technical writing field for almost a decade, I felt it was time to dispel the top six myths about the career I've chosen.
Pitching is the easy part. It’s all the waiting around afterward that’s frustrating.
As the saying goes: Teach a freelancer to pitch, and she can land an assignment; teach her to write a concise letter of introduction, and she can find work for a lifetime... or something like that.
Personal Creations created a fascinating infographic that shows how long it will take the average reader—at 300 words per minute—to finish 64 books, including everything from The Great Gatsby (2.62 hours) to Anna Karenina (19.43 hours) to the Harry Potter series (60.23 hours).
For individual reporters, sifting through pages of rules and regulations may not be the most efficient way to spend an afternoon. Fortunately, there's an alternative worth checking out: The Society for Professional Journalists (SPJ) offers a free ethics hotline manned by a team of journalists and journalism educators.
Media training helps you, the writer, transition from the interviewer to the interviewee by teaching you new skills that boost your confidence once the cameras start rolling. I would know—I’ve received media training, and now I train others.
Writing may be an artform, but if you're a professional freelancer, understanding the value of your work sometimes depends more on business interests than creative genius.
Sometimes, journalists like to think of ethics as concrete standards, but the reality is a lot more fluid than that.
So you’ve been working a bunch of hours, focused, in the zone, creating. You feel good. Then you spot your other to-do list. You know, the one that includes items like update credit card, pay parking ticket, make doctor’s appointment—all those soul-sucking tasks that must get done or all hell will break loose.