Sources are Crucial in Freelance Writing

If you want to be successful as a freelance writer, you need to produce quality content. Having valuable sources is an important part of producing quality content.

How do you find good sources?

Network and build bridges between yourself and people who are well versed in the subjects that you write about. Ask friends and family, ask around in chat rooms and forums (to find out who experts are, don’t use a chat room as a source), and search online. Interviews make for good articles and associating with experts will boost your credibility.

If you primarily use the internet as a source, make sure that you favor the sites of experts with credentials, government websites and .org sites that tend to be educational. See if you can contact the experts behind the websites via email or phone.

Go to the library. Do not underestimate to quality of hard copy information. Some facts change over time, so it is best to show preference to later additions. You may be able to fact-check online to make sure the information you are using is up to date, but don’t be afraid to crack open a book.

Using Sources Properly

The way that you use those sources is vital as well. An improperly used source can be worse for a writer’s reputation than not using any sources at all. Remember to always cite your references, particularly if you spoke directly with them. Be sure to use quotes and researched information within context. Always record interviews (unless the source totally objects) to ensure that your quotes are accurate. Make sure that if you paraphrase, the words still carry a similar meaning to what was originally stated.

A “References” or “Sources” list at the end of a short online article may suffice. If you are writing for a magazine, make sure you follow their recommended citation process.  Mentioning your sources within the content will strengthen your points. Familiarize yourself with a variety of citation styles and stick to one that you are most comfortable using.

Write from the Depths of Your Soul

I just read an amazing inspirational piece about writing something that is uniquely yours and as far from cliché as possible. The only way I can summarize it is to say this:

Write from the depths of your soul. Dig deeper and forget about everything else you have ever read or written before. Search within yourself for something that no one else can unleash. Let it be raw and unexpected. Don’t do what has already been done.

“Write what’s real and true to you. That’s what stories are made of.”

“The Write Stuff” by Charlene Teglia is highly worthy of link love.

Overcoming Distractions When Writing

Every writer faces distraction from time to time. Email, Twitter, Facebook, phone calls, texts, television, family, friends, etc. Here are some tips to help you minimize distractions and stay focused on your writing.

What is distracting you?

The first step is simple. Figure out what your weak points are. What is distracting you and why?

Once you determine what is luring your attention from your special craft, you can begin to brainstorm a way to counteract it. Can you resolve distractions before writing time? For example, if social media is drawing you away from getting words on the page, set a timer and visit those sites first. Limit the time you spend updating statuses and check new posts of only a few select people. It will satiate  your curiosity temporarily while you work. If you can take care of whatever tends to steal your focus before your writing time, you will be less likely to stop writing because of those curious thoughts. This method works well if household chores or errands bother you the most.

Try using the distraction as a motivator. You can also use your distraction as a reward. Using the social media example, tell yourself that you can find out what is happening as soon as you write 500 words. Set some sort of goal that must be reached before you allow yourself to indulge.

Limit your writing time. If you are a writer, then at some point you must have decided that you love writing. Tease yourself and limit the amount of time you can spend writing per session. Once you get into a consistent habit of writing, you will enjoy it so much that you don’t want to stop when it is time. Take a few extra minutes if you have to finish a thought, but leave it alone. This will motivate you to come back again and dive right into your work next time.

Personally, my main distractions are household chores and family. What distracts you from your writing?

Changing your writing atmosphere

Since writing, even non-fiction writing, is an extremely creative process, the environment in which you write is crucial. Creativity requires surroundings that are free of distraction so that you can relax, stimulate your mind, and think clearly. If you find that you have a lack of motivation to get your work done, or if you are constantly distracted, you may need to get into a different atmosphere.

I have struggled with this at home, since I live in a small apartment with my husband. With very limited space, it is hard to maintain a consistent “office” environment. While I do have space to work, the distraction of being home sometimes overwhelms me. When I start to think about household chores, television, video games, and the plethora of other things to do during the day, my environment just doesn’t help.

Sometimes I rearrange the furniture or work in another room. This is a temporary solution, however, because it does not work everyday. This might be enough if you have a full home office to use, but I have to share what little space I have with my husband, and  I have to move my writing station in order to exercise. The inconsistency can make it difficult to focus.

Getting out of the apartment works quite well for me. I will go to a café with free wifi, or a library. I am able to sit down and get right to work without a second thought. That simple change in atmosphere takes everything but writing off of my mind. Once I feel that I have accomplished what I set my mind to do, I can go back home and do some of those other things that would have prevented me from getting my work done.

It is important to have a consistent place to do your writing, because your mind will naturally go into working mode. On the other hand, surroundings can get a little too familiar, and this can either bore or distract you. Change your writing environment every once in a while to keep things fresh. Here are some places you can go:

  • bookstore
  • Café/coffee shop
  • library
  • outside (park, beach, back yard, porch, deck)
  • college campus
  • wifi hot spot/internet café

Where do you go when you need to write, but don’t want to stay home?

Life as your Writing Muse

There is writing material in everyday if you look for it. Sometimes writing ideas can come to you when you are not looking for them. We should embrace the muse that life is, and write in whatever genre suits our personal expression.

If you are struggling with writers block or have trouble coming up with story ideas or topics to write about, examine your life. What is happening to you mentally, emotionally or physically? What is going on in your friends or family’s lives?

Writers who don’t find these sources inspirational, which is probably rare, can take to observation. Go out to a park, the mall, a parking lot, a restaurant, club, school campus, or anywhere there are people. There is nothing easier than making instant judgment calls about someone’s personality based on how they look or sound. Pay really close attention to the things that people are talking about, wearing, buying, carrying, or where they are going. Use all of this information to springboard ideas from. Feel free to make incredible assumptions about them since they have no idea that you are writing about them.

Animal lovers can gain inspiration from observation as well. The most basic of animal behavior can translate into human behavior. Run with the ideas.

Freelance Writing Ideas

There is a piece of advice that I have heard repeatedly from experienced writers, and I thought that it would be worth mentioning here. Perhaps you have heard it before: Always write down your ideas as soon as you get them.

Writing ideas can come to us at any moment, and they are valuable. Keep an index card, note pad, paper and a pen or pencil with you at all times, because you never know when your best selling pitch or most loved article yet will pop into your mind. I have to admit, I have only done this sparingly, and I regret not writing down all of the ideas that I have had. I have made it my aim recently not to allow those gems to simply slip away.

Keep all of your writing ideas in one place and review them every once in a while. You may not use them right away, or at all, and that is fine. Many of those ideas that you may have forgotten about could be what the next editor is looking for. One day you may be tired or at a loss for writing topics and revisiting your collection of writing ideas can give you a second wind of creativity.

Reading can also be your muse. Here are some websites that can stimulate some writing ideas:

http://www.creativewritingprompts.com/

http://www.brainyquote.com/

http://www.debgallardo.com/virtuoso/

Watching television and movies sometimes inpires me with article ideas. Where do you get your writing ideas?

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