Success in life is often about timing. Being in the right place at the right time, or filling a precise need, can shift your life where you least expect.
My experience working as a correspondent for a daily newspaper is an example of that. I reaped exposure, a folder of clips, and learned much about pleasing numerous editors.
I began my writing career as a staff writer for sister weeklies located in neighboring counties. I covered county and town government and wrote an occasional feature.
Then I wanted a change and took the jump into full time freelancing. Like many starting out full time, cash flow became a problem.
As if by fate, I noticed an ad for a correspondent to cover local government. My daily newspaper decided to begin using area correspondents to compete with another daily, covering issues in my county. I had an edge, since my main beat as a staff writer had been local government.
After a few sample articles, I was sending them two stories a week and a feature now and then. I also had time to continue other freelance projects. While the pay wasn’t huge, it was dependable and those front-page bylines in the larger daily were thrilling.
During the three years as a correspondent, I worked with four news editors and two feature editors. Those associations were major learning experiences, since each had different wants, needs, likes and dislikes.
The short deadline of the daily paper created a stark contrast to my schedule at the weekly, and forged another useful writing tool. Most assignments were covered in the evening and due early the next day.
Don’t underestimate the value of clips. Since many of my stories were in the online version too, it provided easy access for other editors to see my work.
This job also manifested a variety of networking connections that has helped me as well. Now I freelance full time, and still draw on that experience as a correspondent. It taught me to always keep my eyes and mind open to opportunities lurking out there.
Gloria Griepenstroh is a full time freelancer living in Southwestern Indiana, and has been a writer for over twenty years. Her focus is on non-fiction and how-to articles, as well as essays. She has been published in newspapers, magazines and other online publications.
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