4 things I learned from a freelance writing workshop

Writing is a joy. But just like anything that involves thinking, it requires discipline, too. (photo courtesy of http://www.sxc.hu)

By Anthony O. Alcantara
Becoming a freelance writer has a certain appeal. Anyone can probably become one. But not everyone would want to, and not everyone can become good writers. At least, not at first.

Though I have some writing experience, going full time as a freelance writer is beyond my ken. So I sought the experts.

Recently I attended a workshop called “How to Jumpstart your Freelance Writing Career.” It was conducted by three young ladies named Ana Santos, Nikka Sarthou, and Niña Terol-Zialcita. They formed this group called the Writer’s Block Philippines.

They don’t teach you how to cure writer’s block, but they do teach you how to write well and how to market yourself.

Marketing myself as a writer is what interested me most. And finding more profitable writing jobs is another. I’ve long known that freelance writing for magazines and newspapers won’t likely give you that BMW. There must be more.

Here are the things that I learned, or relearned, during the workshop.

1. “It’s who you know.”

I knew this all along, but Wanggo Gallaga, who was a guest speaker during the workshop, delivered it as a profound truth. It’s different when you write for a company magazine, and I’ve only written two feature articles for a newspaper in the last eight years.

I never realized that it is a basic tenet of freelance writing. Sending your stories to an editor who does not know you is almost as futile as sending a letter to Santa Claus. I’ve tried both.

So what do you do? Use your network. I found the exercise “Circle of Friends” useful. It starts with your inner circle of close friends, then your not-so-close friends, and then your acquaintances. Now I could picture where to start tapping my contacts.

2. Opportunities abound in writing for corporations.

I’ve seen crap emanate from a certain PR company that charges P10,000 for a press release that will only be read by the editor’s wastebasket.

I’m not bragging, but at least I know I can write better than some PR agency writers out there. And there lies the opportunity. Advertising agencies, PR agencies, marketing outfits are all looking for freelance writers.

3. You have to develop the mindset of an entrepreneur.

The only successful business I had was my real estate venture in a Millionaires Game session a long time ago. It was successful for about 30 minutes before going bankrupt. Anyway, my background didn’t give me the chance to exercise any entrepreneurial skills.

What I learned in the workshop is that a freelance writer must also be a savvy entrepreneur. If you can’t sell your skills as a writer, you can never become a full-time writer.

That’s what I hope to develop. Aside from my circle of friends and the untapped opportunities around, nourishing this mindset will help lot.

4. You kindle your creativity by interacting with other people.

Being with people who are on the same quest as you are can help you gather information you may not get elsewhere. You also make connections with people, information and ideas.

I guess creativity expert Edward Glassman‘s findings in his recent survey can explain this. He found that the biggest factor in making people more creative is “other people.” Indeed, interaction with other people who have different views and ideas can help create an environment conducive to creative thought. And that’s what the workshop created: an environment for creativity.

Come to think of it, it’s the same with everything else in life. It’s who you know that gets you to your destination. Looking for untapped opportunities helps you get that promotion. Having the mindset of an entrepreneur makes you sensitive to these opportunities. Interacting with people helps you to think creatively about a thorny problem.

And sometimes, it takes a workshop for you to realize these things.



6 Responses to “4 things I learned from a freelance writing workshop”

  1. Hi Ton!

    Thanks for writing about the workshop! We’re glad you relearned a lot of useful things that will hopefully get you started on writing and freelancing more 🙂

    Keep on writing and keep on blogging! 😀

    ~ WBP

  2. I think you are very well on your way to being successful, this piece is very well written, I’m no expert but reading it made me wish I attended the seminar myself 😦

    God bless!

    • gohelpyourself Says:

      Thanks Lisa. 🙂 I think they’ll have another workshop in June. You can just bookmark their website. 🙂

  3. Hey there classmate!

    This is a readable and informative article. Interesting blog too! Looks like you already have the knack for writing 🙂

    Regarding the workshop, it was enlightening and helpful that the speakers focused also on the business and marketing side of writing. Anyone can write (anything at least) but only a few find profit in it at the same time.


    • gohelpyourself Says:

      Thanks Aldwin. Yeah, earning enough from freelance writing is the holy grail we seek. It’s going to be hard work, but the process is a reward in itself. Anyway, hope to see you in future seminars. 🙂

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