I relate to Bill Murray’s character, Bob Wiley, from the movie What About Bob? Bob is afraid of everything. When it comes to writing, so am I. So when I finally decided to be a writer, I used Bob’s psychiatrist’s advice – I took baby steps.
First, I visited the library and read Writers Market. Then, I enrolled in Journalism classes and read every writing book I could. Two years later, when our local paper solicited feedback about changes they’d made, I finally took my next step by submitting a comment. The publisher thanked me and asked me to visit.
When I visited, they asked me to proofread. I did and then came back the next week. I kept proofreading until I had the courage to take my next step and ask if I could write. I was told I could interview someone in our community so I interviewed my librarian. The editor liked my article, published it and encouraged me to keep writing. Hesitantly, I proposed covering a small fundraising event. The editor agreed and accepted my article. A few weeks later, when one of his freelancers was unable to cover a local pageant, he asked if I’d be interested. I accepted.
Today, I have a number of published articles from that paper. Plus, that editor referred me to another, larger paper in the area that gave me a project writing advertorials. They, in turn, plan to use me again and, through them, I met a financial planner who wants me to ghostwrite a book for her.
The bottom line? If you need credits and experience, contact your local paper. They may be short-staffed and might shower you with attention, appreciation and assignments. Work hard, take risks, and soon, your baby steps will become running leaps.
Rebecca Jens is a freelance writer/photographer who lives in Fort Mill, SC. She studied Journalism through the Institute of Childrens Literature and Saint Mary of the Woods College in Indiana and hopes to soon break free of the corporate world.