February 20, 2013

Don't Forget about Your Day Job - Diane Stark | printable version

Five years ago, I resigned from my job as a kindergarten teacher. While I loved teaching, I longed to be a stay-at-home mom and try my hand at freelance writing. I'd been writing in my spare time for a few years, and I wanted to pursue the craft more seriously.

Although I'm not currently teaching in the classroom, I still use my teaching experience all the time in my writing career. I've worked on several writing projects developing test questions for the state standardized tests. It's an interesting job and it pays well, and they only hire teachers and former teachers.

For four years now, I've been writing for a variety of children's magazines, and many of them initially gave me a chance because I'd been a teacher. One editor told me that writers with teaching experience have a better understanding of children's interests and age-appropriate vocabulary, and that's why he'd considered my story in the first place.

I've also written essays about my days in the classroom. One essay was published in a Chicken Soup for the Soul book. Others have appeared in teaching magazines, religious publications, and even women's magazines.

I even published a devotional book specifically for teachers. The book describes many of my experiences in the classroom. Some of the stories are touching and some are humorous, but each of them taught me something about teaching, myself, or life in general.

Teaching is not the only field that offers special opportunities for writers. There are trade publications for nearly every field imaginable. A writer with experience in a certain field has a definitely advantage when querying a trade publication in that area.

Even if you quit your day job to pursue writing full-time, always remember to include your previous experience in your query letters. You never know when an editor might be looking for someone with your expertise.

Diane Stark is a former teacher turned stay-at-home mom and freelance writer. Her work has appeared in many parenting magazines, religious publications, and more than a dozen Chicken Soup for the Soul books. She is the author of Teacher's Devotions to Go. She can be reached at DianeStark19-at-yahoo.com.


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