Last night I had the experience of guest speaking at a women's writer group called Voices: Write to Be Heard. It was held at Seacoast Church in Mount Pleasant and featured bloggers, book authors, plus freelance writers like me.
When I originally accepted the invitation to participate in the event, I had no clue that I would be anything more than one of the crowd. So when Holly, one of Mount Pleasant Magazine's contributors, asked me if I'd come along I said "Sure! Sounds fun!" I had no idea what I was in for.
Then when I got there I found a whole table with my name on it. The sign in the middle of the table said "Denise K. James," and I suddenly got the ominous feeling that I was expected to make some kind of...speech about freelance writing. Gulp.
"Ohh, noo," reassured Holly and the other chick-in-charge, Jennifer. "You won't have to stand up and speak. But people will visit your table and you'll answer their questions about freelancing."
What kinds of questions? I wondered nervously. I hoped I knew the answers. For Pete's sake, I would have studied if I'd known this was the deal.
But in the end, once the cup of coffee kicked in (I should have known better than to drink coffee in the evening but darn, I was exhausted and I needed brain fuel) I found myself spouting some of the most profound brilliance on the topic of freelance writing, ever.
Remember to daydream often, in strange places.
Talk to strangers all the time. Don't be afraid of them. They can inspire you.
Write your pitch letter with a crazy-good subject line so they don't trash it before they read it. Once, when pitching a magazine, I titled my email "Last Night's Bean Dip."
Keep in touch with other writers. You need intellectual colleagues.
Know your rates, whether they ask what you charge per word, per hour, per project or per article.
As I spoke, I felt like I really knew what the heck I was talking about. It was a good feeling. I handed out a few business cards, invited my listeners to contact me, and generally got some good networking done.
Maybe I need to be put on the spot more often.