I’m having a pretty good spring so far. I’ve landed a few assignments for new clients. I recently finished up one long-range project. I’m getting semi-regular assignments from a client that I’ve worked with for a long time. I’m feeling okay.
Now I need to not rest on my proverbial laurels. I am thinking about doing a few things over the next few months to further develop my career. Here’s my tentative list. Tell me what you think.
1. I think I’m going to join at least one more professional organization. I’m already a member of Society of Professional Journalists, but I think it’d be worthwhile to join another group. The one that I’m currently considering is the American Medical Writers Association, since I write so much about health care for various publications. In an ideal world, I’d like to rejoin the Association of Health Care Journalists and the Education Writers Association because I belonged to those groups in the past. But I don’t think I’m doing enough education-specific writing these days to qualify, which is a shame because I absolutely adored writing about education and schools. (I didn’t even mind covering all those graduations and writing stories about high school exit exams.) I think you can get a lot out of your professional memberships if you want to make the effort to do so.
2. I’m going to work on launching my own website. I love blogging, and I don’t plan to quit, but I think it’s time to have a formal website, too. I need to purchase a domain name and find someone who can make a pretty site for me. I’d like to be able to include my website on my business cards and on my signature so that any potential freelance client can learn more about me.
3. I’m going to commit myself to sending out more query letters. Yes, sending out queries, especially to editors who’ve never heard of you, is a drag. But I’ve found that putting together a good query forces me to really think through a story pitch and develop a solid strategy for follow-through. In other words, it’s a good exercise in critical thinking, even if nothing comes of it. But every so often, something does come of it, something in the way of an assignment. And how can I ever expect to get more assignments if I sit around and wait for people to get in touch with me? There’s no hocus pocus in getting writing assignments.
4. This isn’t directly related to freelancing, but it’s still part of my plan. I want to read more good writing. I’ve always been a reader. I usually have three, four, maybe even five books going at once. (Right now, among other things, I am reading Salvation on Sand Mountain by Dennis Covington, Cleaving by Dennis and Vicki Covington, Lest Innocent Blood Be Shed by Philip P. Hallie, and One Fifth Avenue by Candace Bushnell.) I want to continue to look for good books to read…because after all, one of the best ways to improve your own writing is by reading other things that are well written. I learned long ago that I can learn how to improve my writing even by reading good fiction. Good writing is good writing, no matter what genre it falls into.
So that’s the laundry list for now. I’m sure I’ll add to it or maybe modify it. But I wanted to write it down so I would have it in front of me.