If you are familiar with the electronic music artist Tricky, you are probably aware of the fact that he is not only trying on a coat of many musical colours, but that he can also be quite erratic, both to work with and on stage.
Working as a freelance writer, you are also probably aware that you can be erratic. That is probably one of the reasons you took on being a freelancer - sometimes you just don’t feel like working, have something else to resolve and don’t like all the constraints the standard ‘9 to 5’ brings along.
But then, working as a freelancer you can quite often run into Tricky-like situations form ‘the other side’, the one that should or does give you work. You may solicit for a job and not get an answer of any kind. You may be offered a job with the potential employer changing his/her mind before the job has even started.
The possibility that the employer might not like your work and does not want to cooperate with you anymore is something that is probably always in the back of your mind and you have already calculated it in as some kind of risk.
But what if you get all the plaudits, good reviews and suddenly, the employer just simply disappears from the radar?It could be any reason - he is not being successful, has ran out of money, anything. That is potentially one of those moments you get a flicker of longing for that ‘9 to 5’.
In those situations, just remember why you wanted to work freelance in the first place and try to account in all the good and bad experiences. Usually the good ones prevail. When you realise that, all possible “no letters, not even a postcard” situations will not bother you so much.
And then you might remember Tricky more for his trip-hop masterpiece “Maxinquaye” that for his idiosyncrasies.
“Strange Brew — kill what’s inside of you”, sand The Cream on one of their legendary albums, “Disraeli Gears”, recently getting a lavish reissue (vinyl or CD, your voice).
Great song, but if you take those lyrics, it makes you wander is that always true? No contest, ‘strange brews’ always have that sinister sound when you mention them, but is that always true in writing?
What I here have in mind as a strange brew is not some chemical, or even herbal additive you put into your coffee to stimulate your inspiration, but looking for good, solid, brain cell produced inspiration, looking in places that are not only ‘strange’ but even mundane, ordinary.
You see, if you really are inspired to write, there should be no such thing as a writer’s block. I see it as an excuse for not trying, not using your imagination. Sure, there are times you seem to be stuck - but then you have to ask yourself, did I do my research fully and properly, did I plan out the the damn thing thoroughly and properly. You can’t just rely on flashes and blurts of your imagination.
So what do you do when those flashes end up in the pan of the main thing you are focused on? You focus on something else, preferably completely different.
Writing a tightly woven thriller, and you need another extra twist that seemly seems to escape you? Take a look at that Tom Hanks fun music movie “That Thing You Do!” from 1996. Not simply to get your mind of your thriller that you desperately don’t want to turn into a shelf filler. It might give you a completely new idea, for example, for an article on Beatles inspired bands. Write it through. When you’re done, that twist you were looking for will get an unexpected but a fruitful turn. And you didn’t even waste your time - you saw a nice little movie, wrote an article that might bring some extra cash and got back on track of your main story.
Maybe not really a “Strange Brew”, but definitely a different one!
Pitching. Maybe you don’t care about baseball (quite neutral myself), but if you’re a writer, you should at least take a look at any of the pitcher’s usually key guys on the field. They are supposed to dictate the game - they throw the ball, i.e. they pitch, and if the guy with the bat misses, good for them, if they hit it, it is usually not that good for him.
In writing it is more or less the same, but other way around. You send your pitch, and the business, journal, newspaper, site, whoever, they are actually supposed to hit it. So good luck!
In essence though, pitching your writing is like throwing a coin into a wishing well. And her comes the music connection again. This time you can make your pick between Terence Trent D’Arby’s “Wishing Well”, or the one Free did early in the Seventies. Nothing against D’Arby, quite good actually, but in this case I would prefer Free. Much more to do with hitting.
But then, how do you get to the point that that coin you throw in into that wishing well of your idea and/or text getting accepted is not wasted?
Simple. A lot of work. And no matter how ordinary that sounds, that is what it boils down to. Some would insist on the original idea. Yes, but those don’t come everyday. When they do, even a relatively basic explanation will do the trick.
But usually they don’t. So what then? The idea has to be a good (an even bigger simplification), but it has to be researched and developed to the tee. When you put it down on paper, all the basics for the finished text have to be there.
If you don’t get all the key elements from it what the finished text will look like and what it has to say, don’t even send it in. Actually, your pitch should probably take more time and effort to develop than the full text itself.
Frankly, that should have as much to do with the people looking at your pitch as with you, Because a waste pitch will be a wasted coin thrown into a wishing well of hope your writing will be published and reworded, no matter which way (hopefully many). You certainly already know that the wasted time and effort are probably worth a few more coins than just the first one thrown in.
No matter how much I write because you love it and that is exactly what you want to do, at some point, you want more than just a personal satisfaction, commendations and all those spirit-fulfilling moments that such a satisfaction brings. You would like to get some material reward, or to be less euphemistic, money.
Since there is always some music I bring in into these, skip anything to do directly with money. That is not the precise point today. Anyway, musicians that sang were and are the ones that got it. A lot. Pink Floyd, Abba, even The Beatles, adopting the early Motown hit, that brought in money itself.
More in tune today you’d have to go with Price. If you are classically inclined you can go with the fabulous Leontyne Price, but I’m more thinking of Alan Price, the former Animals keyboard player (his keyboards on their version of “House of The Rising Sun”, helped bring in a nice bundle of cash), but also quite a solo performer.
It is his version of “I Put A Spell On You”, I had more in mind - quite a winding road to get to the price of your work as a freelance writer.
Why connect the Screaming’ Jay Hawkins voodoo stuff with the price. Very simple, like the price of stocks, its basically guesswork. On both sides, the writer’s and the one that requests or has to pay for his work. Even the the supposed litmus test of “it is worth how much somebody is willing to pay and how much you are willing to accept” doesn’t really work. I guess that is why some writing agencies pay cash (not a lot) to writers to have them fill out polls on what they think on the subject, no matter that pages and pages as well as tons of pricing guides have been written and set on the matter.
To put it simply, it is a guessing game. You can’t underprice your work, and you can’t overprice it either. From the writer’s pint of view, the latter is better, if you are given a chance and wish to correct it. In essence, the side that puts on a better spell on the other gets a better deal.
As a writer, as if gauging the current state of stocks, you have to take into consideration all the objective, but also subjective elements - how much do you need a certain job at that moment, particularly financially, how much real effort it will take to do it, but also how much will it satisfy you personally. Like all writers, there are certain things I’ll write about even if I do not get a financial reward, no matter how tight the money is.
Again, you have to know your price of the moment. Can you be consistent? You can try, but I’m not sure it is going to work, particularly for you personally. If in doubt, you might consult that Price. Alan Price. Maybe you can develop your own spell that works.
To learn more about me, please check my LinkedIn page at www.linkedin.com/profile/preview?locale=en_US&trk=prof-0-sb-preview-primary-button.