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Day 5 – Embarrassing Writing – Need to Keep My Work Secret

Posted on : 05-02-2016 | By : admin | In : 30 Blog Writing Challenge

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Embarrassed by Sarebear (smilie) on Flickr ccI want to talk about something that I touched on yesterday in more detail today and that subject is: embarrassing writing. It’s something that I suffer from quite a lot. I am probably going to find that it is just me, and that everyone else is loud and proud about the fact they write, but I have always tended to keep it a secret.

I enjoy writing, I feel compelled to write, particularly when I have had a really great idea that I just have to get down, but when it comes to actually sitting there, notebook open and pen out, then I just have to hide it – I am embarrassed to write!

It’s crazy really, I have great feedback from clients – they all appreciate my work and like what I do. I have written for all kinds of people from all walks of life and written well, but I don’t like to let my family see me write. Perhaps it’s because there I feel there is something else I should be doing, perhaps because I feel that my writing is silly, that no one could possibly want to read it and that it should be locked away in a cupboard somewhere and I should throw away the key.

However the longer I am in this, the more I feel that I am being silly to feel embarrassed about getting involved in a new writing project. I need to learn to let go a little more and be upfront about who I am and that person is a writer.

So, if you can identify with this and you too feel embarrassed to let friends and family know you write, here are some tips that are beginning to help me overcome this problem:

  • Don’t put off your writing. Make notes on your phone or tablet, buy a notebook or whatever else it takes to get writing but start writing today.
  • Pack a notebook or tablet for your holidays. Reading is one of these holiday pleasures and so is writing. Take the things you will need away with you to write.
  • Find a time when you can talk to your partner about it. They expect gaming time, don’t they? Well it makes it a fair swap if you tell them that you need writing time too!
  • Expect to be a little selfish. The thing about writing is that it is a solo activity, so you will need time to yourself. Send the kids out to play with their friends, the husband out to darts night and the girlfriend out for the night, then enjoy the peace and quiet and write.
  • The next time you feel like hiding your writing, bring it out into the open. Just mention it casually and hope that your partner takes their cue from you. Partners can keep secrets from each other (I’m thinking shopping habits here) but if writing is that important to you, then you will want their support.
  • You don’t have to share everything with everyone. When you’re a business owner, then you will want as many people as possible to know about your writing, but when you are just starting out as an aspiring author, then only let the people know who you want to know.

This is something I have struggled with in the past as a writer. I am beginning to be able to talk to my family a little about what I am doing and learning to negotiate writing time, but there are days when I would prefer not to talk about it.

Comment below if you understand what I mean about ‘embarrassing writing’ or not! Then I shall know whether I am truly alone and should just go back to my hidey hole.

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Day 4 (30 Day Blogging Challenge) Plot Your Novel

Posted on : 04-02-2016 | By : admin | In : 30 Blog Writing Challenge

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Plot Bunny?

Plot Bunny?

There are several schools of thought when it comes to plotting out a novel. The first one is: don’t plot your novel!

For some people, the very act of sitting down and working out what the story is going to be about and the twists and turns of the novel takes away from the experience of writing it. Some people enjoy seeing where the mood takes them and writing when the muse strikes. I have to say men that I have tried this style of plotting myself. I had been thinking about my idea for a while, allowing it to ferment, before sitting down and writing it down in roughly 1,666 word chunks. That is roughly the word count you need to make each night if you are to succeed at NaNoWriMo, the challenge that asks you to write a 50,000 word novel in a month.

Because the amount of words I wanted to achieve each night was fairly structured, I found it reasonably ok to make the target, sometimes less and sometimes more. I tried to leave my story in a place where I could come back the next night and pick it straight up. I had thought about the characters for a number of months so I knew them fairly well, but there was no real attempt to plot the novel.

It did not work so well. I managed to complete NaNoWriMo, but I am not happy with the result. It did not work as well as it could – there is no coherence and a lack of development within the plot. I am reasonably happy with the characters, the setting and the dialogue, but the novel shows that I had only a vague idea of where it was going when I sat down and began to write it.

I have had other attempts to write a novel, but they have just not stayed the course. So when it came to my latest idea, I was looking for a way to plot my novel that could give me a firmer foundation on which to work. Here were my top contenders:

  1. Rachel Aaron/Rachel Bach – Rachel writes science fiction and fantasy world books and her blog is very thorough when describing how she comes to plot a book. I really enjoyed this blog post on plotting and thought it was very good advice.
  2. Simon Haynes also has a great article on plotting a novel. He explains the difference between how he plotted and how his novel turned out. He also writes software to help writers. You can read about Simon and his books at Spacejock.

  3. Lisa Gardiner has also produced an interesting article on how to plot a novel. She likes to make sure that everything is well-researched and that she has the whole novel outlined before beginning to write. Again, she offers some  good tips in ‘Plotting the Novel or the Real Reasons Writers are Neurotic”.

  4. The She’s Novel blog explains how to take a plot bunny – a novel writing idea that just won’t go away – and turn it into a fully-fledged novel outline.

  5. The Snowflake Method. The snowflake method builds your novel plot up sentence by sentence. You start with a sentence that sums up your plot, then you expand on it, then you build up information on your main characters and what happens in the story. Randy Ingerson has written the article and some software to go with it. This is a very detailed explanation on how to plot a novel step by step.

This is just a snapshot of the kinds of resources that are on the web, so if you have a ‘plot bunny’ hanging around your head, why not check out some plotting resources and see if you can capture that critter on paper!

In the interests of clarity, there are no affiliate links in this article, and all opinions are my own.

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Five Tips to Finding your Freelance Writing Style

Posted on : 03-02-2016 | By : admin | In : 30 Blog Writing Challenge

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Busy Day by Debra Roby on Flickr CC“A professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit.” Richard Bach

The internet has opened up a lot of opportunity to writers to earn money from freelance writing. The beauty of freelance is that you don’t have to give up your day job and dive straight in, but that you can use your spare time to explore freelance writing to see if it is for you. One of the most important things you can do is to learn about your freelance writing style. This takes a little persistence and practice, so here are some tips to help you.

  1. Find time to write. Keep notebooks in lots of different places so that you always have something on hand to write on, or use the notes on your phone. This is even better if you are able to sync your notes with your computer because then they will be backed up and you can work on them some more. Even 10 minutes can be productive if you come to it ready to write.
  2. Write about what interests you. Write about an interesting event that has struck you or an interesting news story. Sometimes just a news headline can be enough to spark that creativity. Or you can write a description of an interesting character and put them in a story.
  3. Read. Find out about writing styles. Learning how to structure your work is very important in freelance writing. Read up about how to write headlines and the differences between blog posts and articles. Look up different types of blog posts and work on examples of each type. Practise writing articles. When I began to write, I started by submitting content to a number of websites which would edit the articles before they went up. This was a great way to learn how to do things right.
  4. Follow some writers who seem to be doing things right. You can learn a lot from other people. Be wary of bold claims from some people who just seem to be after your money, but there are some excellent freelance writers out there who give really worthwhile advice. You will also probably be able to follow them on Facebook and Twitter. You can get yourself known to them by commenting on their blog and asking questions. These people can offer a lot of experience and you can learn a lot.
  5. Take your time to learn about freelance writing. If you are interested in building up a career in it, then it is worth spending the effort to research it and find out more. There are some good email courses available but always check out reviews before committing to buying a course.
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30 Day Blogging Challenge Day 2: Q & A

Posted on : 02-02-2016 | By : admin | In : 30 Blog Writing Challenge

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Question 1 by Virtual EyeSee

Five years ago, I created a post which asked, so – what exactly do you do?

It came about through a challenge posted by Naomi Dunford of Itty Biz who had been asked by a reader of her blog, “So, what do you actually do?” It made her stop and think about what she actually did, and more importantly whether her website actually reflected what she actually did.

Did her website truly reflect her business or did she need to spell it out more clearly? These are the questions she asked herself and I am going to ask myself the same questions here:

What is your game? What do you do?

I am first and foremost a writer. I love playing with words, using words and discovering words. During my time as a writer, I have written newsletters, articles on diverse topics such as Northern Lights tours and marble and granite, not to mention 50 articles on car mats! I love researching a new topic and learning about something different. I enjoy a challenge and I love it when I have a new assignment.

I also enjoy writing short stories, I have been known to write (very secret) poetry and I have written a terrible novel which was written during NaNoWriMo one year. There is just one published copy which will never see the light of day again! (Evil cackling)

I have also done some proofreading and edited a book.

Why do you do it? Do you love it, or do you just have one of those creepy knacks?

Writing is not easy work. That’s the first thing I would say, however I find it enjoyable. I have known some people who just can’t bear writing. I must confess to having a creepy knack with spelling – I can usually tell if a word is spelt correctly. I also can remember all those names for parts of a sentence which everyone else seems to have forgotten since they left school – nouns, adjectives, verbs and adverbs etc. Handy for school homework!

Who are your customers? What kind of people would need or want what you offer?

I have met people who hate writing so I am an obvious match for someone like that. I have worked with small business owners, a London marketing agency and a local charity as well as a growing business. There are a lot of people looking for content these days because they have been told that it is essential for their business. It is, but not the cheap, churned out stuff that you can buy for peanuts. The kind of content that works is tailored to the individual business and offers valuable and interesting information rather than just the same stuff that everyone else is churning out.

What’s your marketing USP (Unique Selling Point)? Why should I buy from you instead of the other losers?

Everyone thinks they can write, but do people want to read it? I look for the story behind the article and use it to create unique articles and blog posts that will encourage people to read on. Why should you buy from me? You don’t have to if you don’t think we are a good fit.

What’s next for you? What’s the big plan?

I am currently researching a period of history and plotting out a history novel. As for the creative writing – I am always looking forward to the next challenge.

If you are a business blog and these questions appeal to you, why not try answering something similar yourself. Make sure that people understand what you do and why you do it.

Comment below if you decide to follow this through.

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30 Day Blogging Challenge -Day 1

Posted on : 01-02-2016 | By : admin | In : 30 Blog Writing Challenge

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pen & paper by Dinuraj K on Flickr CCWhen I interviewed Sarah Arrow of Sark e-Media for this blog last year, I was impressed by her 30 day blogging challenge. The idea is to blog for 30 consecutive days – something I have not tried before. I kept coming back to the idea, but the time never seemed right. Now, in February 2016, it does.

“Keep a small can of WD-40 on your desk—away from any open flames—to remind yourself that if you don’t write daily, you will get rusty.”

—George Singleton

I have accepted the challenge and so plan to blog daily for the month of February and 2 days into March. Sarah has written a blog post to help you get some ideas together about the kinds of blog posts you can write.I already have some ideas mapped out and I am looking forward to seeing what happens.

My reasons for taking part in the challenge include adding some more posts to this blog, as it can get a bit neglected when I am busy with work or just life. I am also blogging to meet more people online and see what other people are blogging about. I am also hoping to reinvigorate my business and have fun.

I have already joined the Facebook group where you can promote your posts and see what everyone else is writing about. This is an important part of the process and will help me to keep to the challenge. Sarah also sends out daily emails to help you with the challenge.

So come along with me for the journey. If, like me, you fancy a blogging challenge this month, then visit Sarah’s website, Sark e-Media to sign up and for further information.

The first day was OK – the other 29? We shall wait and see.

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Four More Qualities of Successful Freelance Writers

Posted on : 18-09-2015 | By : admin | In : Enjoying Writing, Freelance Writing, Help with Writing, Uncategorized

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Some people just find writing hard work. The physical effort of putting pen to paper or fingers to keypad just does not do it for them. They are unsure that what they are doing is correct and they find the very act of writing a chore. Other writers love it. They enjoy the physical act of writing, whether it’s on a computer or with a favourite pen and paper. They love the feeling of the words flowing out from the brain and onto the page.

By David Turnbull on Flickr CC

By David Turnbull on Flickr CC

Does that mean it’s always easy? No. Writers’ block is very real and it can sometimes be difficult to find just the right word for the sentence, or to work out exactly what it is that you want to say next, but the enjoyment of the physical act of writing just doesn’t go away, no matter how many words you write. If this is you, then you have the potential to be a freelance writer. Here are some more qualities that you will need:

  1. You enjoy learning about new and different things

If you want to write for a living and get paid for it, then you learn to write about many different things. Sometimes Writing Gurus suggest that the best way to get paid is to find a niche and become an expert writer in that niche. If in a previous life, you were an accountant or an insurance agent, then you might well have a niche if you can blog about your knowledge in an accessible way. Most of us do not have that background, however, so we need to discover what we enjoy writing about, and most importantly, what we can write well about. The ability to discover new, reliable sources as knowledge for what you have been asked to write is a very important part of being freelance writers. A future niche may grow out of that work, if you are engaged to write a lot of material in that area.

  1. You have confidence in Your Writing

Writing confidently is part of writing well. Knowing what you want to say and making sure that it reads well is important to a freelance writer. Offering your work through an editor can help you gain confidence in your writing. It is important that you let others read your work, as they can spot errors that you might not.

  1. You can Proofread Your Writing

On the subject of errors, it is important that you can spot simple grammatical and spelling errors. Spellcheck is a great tool and even those freelance writers who are confident in their writing, use it, but sometimes it will miss a homophone, or a word that sounds the same, but is spelled differently and has a different meaning.

  1. You can Take Criticism

Most freelance writers who have had any clients have not always produced every piece of work perfectly. Quite often a piece of work will be returned with requests for revisions. It’s how you take it which is important. Your client knows what they want, and if you are lucky, they will ask for it. It’s your job to write what they want so no matter whether you disagree with them or not, you should write to their specifications. Always be professional and polite because these clients are paying you to do a job. Always turn in the best work that you can do.

 

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Could You be a Good Freelance Writer? Part 1

Posted on : 04-09-2015 | By : admin | In : Freelance Writing

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If you think that you have to be a perfect writer to be a freelance writer, then think again. Many of the most successful freelance writers do not consider themselves to be perfect, just good at what they do. Many of them bring other skills to their work, such as the ability to network or to research quickly. So what skills do I think you need to become a freelance writer?

 

Writers' Block

Writers’ Block

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Persistence

Persistence is the number one attribute a freelance writer needs. You need persistence to finish a blog post, you need persistence to keep reaching out to people and companies who need your services and you need to be able to keep going when it seems that you are getting nowhere. You will never know where your next job is going to come from. Persist and you will eventually break through.

  1. Good sense of voice (or able to write consistently in one voice)

This is important if you are going to sell your work. Your ‘voice’ is the tone in which your work reads. Some books are very literary in tone – they use long descriptions, unusual words and it can take a long time for any action to happen. This is a style which some readers like and other readers don’t. Other books can seem easy to read: the action bounces along in quick succession, the characters are sketchily drawn and they do not always take the trouble to draw the characters thoroughly. Neither is right nor wrong and most of us fall in the middle. Both kinds of writing draw readers.

Where do you think you are?

Read a piece of your writing and see if you can discover where you are on this scale. The most important thing is that your voice is consistent – it’s no good starting out literary and ending up friendly and jolly. Developing a consistent voice will help you as a freelance writer.

  1. Grammar and Spelling

Contrary to popular opinion, your grammar and spelling does not have to be perfect, however it is useful to have an idea of how it works. Word processing can pick up most of the problems, but it is not always helpful if the spelling is right, but the word has the wrong meaning, or you don’t know which of the options to choose.

If you are very under-confident in using spelling and grammar, then make sure that you always have a link to a dictionary such as Merriam Webster. Don’t be afraid to google sentence structure to make sure that you are getting it right if you need to.

The best way to make sure that you are getting it right is to ask another pair of eyes to look over it. Even the best writers can make mistakes and we all need someone looking over our shoulder to check that what we are producing is right.

The best advice that I can give to a freelance writer starting out is to suggest that they undertake some writing assignments either on a website or real life which requires an editor to check over their work, before it is published. It is the best way to learn writing styles and to ensure that your writing will be polished and ready to sell when you start taking on clients.

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Where Do Writers Write?

Posted on : 21-04-2015 | By : admin | In : Enjoying Writing

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Writing on a mailbox desk by Julie Jordan Scott

Writing on a mailbox desk by Julie Jordan Scott

Roald Dahl famously had a chair in a hut at the bottom of the garden where he wrote his wickedly funny stories. Ernest Hemmingway wrote standing up as did Victor Hugo, the creator of Frankenstein. Charles Dickens wrote at a desk that he was so attached to, that he had it shipped away on holiday with him.

Jane Austen sat at a very small table to write at. You can see the table at the Jane Austen museum in Bath. It is not much bigger than a small side-table but then all you really need is somewhere to rest a pad of paper and a pen. Not for Jane the towering pile of notes to one side. She may also have been interrupted frequently by her family when writing.

Mark Twain wrote the first book on a typewriter. Such new-fangled technology it must have seemed! George Eliot had a small ornate writing desk that has sadly been stolen from the museum where it was kept. Agatha Christie used a typewriter to write 80 books! A picture of Virginia Woolf’s writing desk shows a small square table placed on a terrace, overlooking a view while Jackie Collins has a huge desk, shiny and polished, surrounded by beautiful and probably expensive things. Then there’s the cafe in Edinburgh where JK Rowling wrote the first Harry Potter book in longhand pencil.

Some writers surround themselves with books: Nigella Lawson has been pictured in a room where books rule the roost – tall shelves surround her, but there is still not enough space and piles of books are under and around the desk she works at too. The late great Terry Pratchett was pictured a few years ago with six screens on his desk although in recent year his illness had meant that he needed to dictate his work.

Where do I write?

The best place I have ever written was on holiday in the Isle of Wight. I had something I wanted to finish and took my PC away with me. The chalet overlooked cliffs and the sea was in the distance, the weather was balmy and to just sit at that small table and write was heaven…

More usually, I have taken over what used to be known as DH’s study. I still call it that, but it’s now mostly consisting of my notes, my books and my odds and ends. It is a sunny room and on hot days I can open the back door to the garden and enjoy the weather.

Feel  free to share where you write in the comments below…

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Meet Keith Havers – The Creative Writer Interview

Posted on : 27-03-2015 | By : admin | In : Author Interview, Blog

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Keith Havers is a short story writer who has had stories published in Take a Break’s Fiction Feast, That’s Life (Australia), The Weekly News, People’s Friend and The Lincolnshire Echo. He also has a short story published in the charity anthology, ‘100 Stories for Queensland’. He is a member of the Trowell Writers’ Trust and Nottingham Writers’ Club. He has had several first, second and third places in their short story competitions over the last few years. In 2008 he was runner up in the National Association of Writers’ Groups annual competition for short stories. In May 2009, he was awarded second place in Writing Magazine short story competition and the entry is available on their website.

You can find Keith on Twitter@KeithHavers

And he blogs at www.grammargrub.blogspot.uk

 

Name:  Keith Havers

Writer Alias (if you are willing to let us know):

I use my real name Keith Havers in all my published work so far. No alias.

How long have you been a writer?

I joined Trowell Writers’ Club in 2006 so I suppose that should be considered my starting point.

Rough idea of where you live.

I live just outside Nottingham.

Do you sell stories/articles to local or global publications?

I sell short stories to magazines which are also published in other countries.

  1. What is the first piece of writing that you remember doing?

I can’t remember the first piece of writing I did but I remember that, as a kid, I was always putting something down on paper. I’ve always been interested in science and technology (I have a degree in electronic engineering) so some of the stuff I wrote was non-fiction but I also had a go at stories and scripts.

  1. What made you realise that you wanted to write for a living?

I don’t actually write ‘for a living’ I have a couple of other jobs as well. I just wanted something else to supplement my income when I realised that my engineering career was coming to an end.

  1. Where was your first story published?

My first published story was in the charity collection 100 Stories For Queensland in 2011. Shortly after that I made my first sale to Take A Break Fiction Feast.

  1. Is there a story that you wish that you had written?

I’m sure we’d all like to have written something hugely successful like Harry Potter or Fifty Shades. You have to keep the dream alive.

  1. What is the one tip that you would give aspiring writers?

Persistence is the key. You have to keep sending your stuff out. Even if it keeps coming back. Re-write it or write something new and send it back out there.

  1. What is your current project?

I don’t have a project as such. I just keep churning out the short stuff, send it off and hope for the best.

 

Thank you, Keith for agreeing to take part in The Creative Writer Interview. I would like to wish you all the best with your short stories.

 

If you are a blogger, freelance copywriter, author or any other kind of writer and would like to take part in the The Creative Writer Interview then email me: sarahthecreativewriter[at]gmail.com

 

 

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Freelance Interview – Meet Kevin Carlton of WebsiteCopywritingServices.com

Posted on : 13-03-2015 | By : admin | In : Blog, Freelance Interview

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Kevin Carlton of Website Copywriting Services

Kevin Carlton of Website Copywriting Services

Name: Kevin Carlton

Website: websitecopywritingservices.com

Twitter: http://twitter.com/Write_Online

Google+: http://plus.google.com/+KevinCarlton

LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/kevincarlton

Bio: Kevin is a freelance copywriter and blogger with a methodical and no-nonsense approach to writing copy. He is owner of UK-based SEO copywriting service Write Online, which helps businesses large and small get the most out of their online presence.

He also provides insider tips on copywriting, blogging and SEO at his blog Make every word work for you.

 

Writer Alias: None

How long have you been a writer? 7 years – although I’ve only been a full-time writer for about 3 or 4 years.

Rough idea of where you live: West Midlands.

Are your clients local, global or a mix? I have a mix of clients, although the majority are based in the UK.

  1. What is the first piece of writing that you remember doing?

Yeah, this was back in 2008 when I was a proofreader and editor for a local PR company. At the time, they were looking for someone who could write articles about SEO for a client website.

As I’d worked in the IT industry in my previous career, the company asked me if I’d try my hand at writing a few trial articles for them. It worked out really well and I ended up getting more and more writing projects through them.

  1. What made you realise that you wanted to write for a living?

As it happens, I never actually had any ambitions to become a writer.

At school, I was stronger in the sciences and ended up doing a Maths and Physics degree.

When I graduated, I went into automotive engineering before moving into computer programming.

It was only when I decided to work for myself that my career took a completely new direction.

When I first started freelancing, I was a proofreader and editor for several academic publishers.

Then, when I got that all-important writing break back in 2008, I grabbed it with both hands. Instead of checking other people’s content, I much preferred writing it.

But I still also love doing some of the techie bits involved in writing for the web – such as HTML, CSS, PHP and SEO.

  1. How did you get your first client?

As I explained in my first answer, I started writing articles as a complementary service to an existing client.

That’s the thing about many careers – you don’t always get your foot in the door the way you expect.

  1. What do you wish that you had written?

I’m currently in discussions with a client about writing website content for a FTSE 100 construction company.

I’d love to get my teeth into that project. But I may have to decline it because of their working terms.

That kind of writing work is right up my street. So I’d really regret turning down such an opportunity.

  1. What is the one tip that you would give aspiring writers?

To make your freelance career a success you don’t necessarily have to the best writer. But you do have to be a good marketer and a good businessman.

That’s how you get well-paid writing work – by getting your name out there to the right people.

  1. What is your current project?

I’m currently project managing a football magazine website, which is due for launch in the next 2–3 weeks. I always get excited when a website I’ve been working on is finally going live.

 

If you are a blogger, freelancer or author and you would like to be featured on our email interview series, then please email sarahthecreativewriter[at]gmail.com and you could be next!

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