When I started in my freelance writing career, I was excited to do reviews of beauty products, write articles about how to organize your kitchen, the cheapest diet plans and foods to brighten your skin. While I felt a sense of pride seeing my byline on the somewhat superficial pages of slick magazines, I never imagined the power my words could have. After my father was diagnosed with cancer in 2007 and survived chemotherapy, a stem cell transplant and drug cocktail that left him depleted of energy and sullen – he was unable to walk down the street without falling short of breath. He decided to cycle 200 km in the Ride to Conquer Cancer – a fundraiser for the hospital that saved his life. He joined a local group of cyclists who trained together all summer and he crossed the finish line as the leader of the pack, pumping his fist in the air as only a survivor can. I wrote an article for a national cycling magazine on his team and relished in their excited faces as they poured over my words.
I realized my words held power, not only to inform women how to properly apply makeup to make their faces appear thinner, but to impact the lives of individuals like my father who struggle to defeat cancer. Since that article, I have written five other pieces about cancer fundraising events, including profile stories on the amazing people who participate in them, and have even become involved in authoring an anthology for a cancer foundation. While I still enjoy writing about fitness trends, anti-aging techniques and lifestyle articles, writing about cancer events has given my work a deeper meaning.
How to look for work with meaning:
Contact a charity or association that touches your heart. Ask if they run fundraising events during the year. Volunteering to help out at the event can give you inside knowledge and can help you make connections with individuals with great stories to tell. I volunteered to take photos at an event and met an individual who was participating in a cross-country cycling event to raise money for childhood cancer. I wrote a profile article on him for a national cycling magazine.
Look for other angles for your charity stories. After writing several pieces for cycling magazines on charity cycling events, I decided to look into my other markets and expand my coverage. I write for several natural health and lifestyle magazines. After seeing how charity challenge events helped my father to heal emotionally and physically from his cancer, I thought there must be others out there for whom charity events are a form of therapy. Thus became a pitch for “Therapy Through Charity” which will appear in a lifestyle magazine in April.
Lisa Evans is a freelance writer from Toronto. Visit her website to learn more and view her work.
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