Perhaps one of the most interesting aspects about my now long-time writing career is that I never set out to write. The fact that I, somewhat serendipitously, spent the past two decades writing and publishing well over 1,500 articles in more than 50 local, regional, national and international publications, still amazes me. As a student writing was never my forte. In middle school I dreaded the annual back-to-school assignment requiring a treatise on how I spent my summer vacation.
So just how did I embark on a career as a freelance, non-fiction writer/journalist? First and foremost it was a transition. After my youngest child entered first grade I took a part-time job as a grant writer. Having been an elementary school teacher I was familiar with the educational system. When my first grant, a parent-pre-school child program, was funded I became the program administrator. In an effort to acquaint parents with this nationally recognized program, I wrote about it in Mother’s Lifeline, a then local parenting publication. Not only did my article generate interest – and enrollees ñ it ignited my desire to write.
Armed with this new-found realization, I continued to write about other grant-related programs. Soon to follow were more professional successes, more personal achievements and more writing assignments. So many, in fact, I decided to attend a regional writing conference. One segment of this event not only piqued my interest, it led me to Vocational Biographies, a career-related publication that profiled persons working in differing occupations and professions. Fairly certain this genre was a good fit, instead of sending a typical query letter I submitted a prototype article, following the book’s format, describing my daughter’s position as a paralegal.
Approximately one week later, I received a call from the editor. She enjoyed the article and although she could not publish it because another paralegal had recently been profiled, she offered me another assignment; an assignment followed by many, many more over the next ten years. I was on my way! One of my first career profiles was about a physical therapist. When the article was published the interviewee was so pleased she showed it to several colleagues ñ one of whom brought it to the attention of the editor of Physical Therapy Journal. Soon I was writing for that publication as well as for Occupational Therapy Journal.
I found my niche and today I continue to write career-related articles for several professional journals/magazines. With my credentials established and authenticated I branched out and my articles now appear in a variety of publications in several different venues. Today I look back on this unorthodox approach to embarking on a writing career and I’m pleased that I took a chance, ventured “outside the box” and sought a career very different from the one for which I was formally trained. Over the years my writing has enabled me to work from home and while traveling. Having the ability to work on my own and follow my interests is a bonus unique to writers and one I applaud, value and recommend.
Barbara Woodworth has been a freelance journalist for nearly two decades. She specializes in career, business, medical-related and travel articles. To date her articles have been published in more than 50 publications. The mother of three grown children, she now lives in Buffalo, New York with her husband of 52 years. She is also an avid reader of Angela Hoy’s weekly email missive.
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