I have no qualms about stating that I am an introvert. Thus, being a home-based freelance writer is in many respects a great career for me. I’ve turned out hundreds of encyclopedia entries and other pieces of researched nonfiction over the years, as well as enough personal stories about my son to make his 8-year-old mind think he’s famous enough for a spot on “Dancing with the Stars” (sorry, kid, there are still more people from “Beverly Hills, 90210” left).
An area I’ve avoided like the plague, however, is doing interviews. I learned early in college that I would be a lousy journalist and never looked back – until rising prices of everything from gas to milk to medical co-pays made me look for additional work. Editors like feature stories with quotes from “real people” and “experts,” so if I wanted those assignments, I’d need to both literally and figuratively speak up.
What I discovered is that people like to talk about themselves, their jobs, and their interests. Rather than feeling like I was being a pest, people often made me feel like I was doing them the favor by including their information in my article.
I also discovered the power of the introverted writer’s best friend: E-mail. A simple e-mail to the American Academy of Pediatrics landed me a back-and-forth electronic exchange with a wonderful doctor who was happy to answer my questions on keeping kids safe in the summer.
Likewise, I made another great realization: I know a lot of people who know a lot of different things. Need quotes on education? E-mail staff at your child’s school. Need quotes about parenting? Ask your sister-in-law, your cousin, and anyone else you know who has a child.
While I doubt I will ever be a hard-core journalist (but never say never–I have a son to put through college someday), my resume and my wallet are happier now that I expanded my horizons.
Beth Hering lives and works in South Elgin, Ill. She is Senior Editor of Health and Safety Issues for CharityGuide.org and is a blogger for Johnson and Johnson’s Momformation site.