While prices may be rising, my paychecks haven’t, so I decided to approach an editor I’ve worked with in the past about the possibility of taking on more assignments. A few days later, I received an e-mail saying that she didn’t have anything at the moment but that a fellow editor was looking for somebody to write a piece on how couples struggling with infertility can cope with negative feelings stirred by images of “happy families everywhere.”
Though eager to work, I didn’t respond right away. Typically, I’m the gal you call when you need a piece like “Fun with your Little Turkey: Thanksgiving-Themed Activities for Toddlers.” How in the world would I tackle such a serious piece (not to mention find anybody willing to be interviewed)?
I decided to test the waters a bit by sending off a few e-mails. Within 24 hours, I found two women from an infertility blog that were willing to be interviewed, two psychologists from the American Fertility Association who could provide a wealth of information, and a list of possible contacts from a pediatrician who I regularly consult about children’s health issues.
I took the assignment, and it was indeed hard to write. Not having experience with infertility myself, I was nervous about my word choices coming off wrong. The last thing in the world I wanted to do was say something insensitive.
In the end, I finished two days before the deadline. I had so much useful information left over that I decided to ask if I could do a second article on when couples should consider seeking professional counseling for infertility issues. The pitch was accepted.
Though nerve-wracking at times, the experience taught me a few things:
1. Don’t be afraid to ask for work. You just might get it.
2. There are a lot of people out there who are willing to help if asked politely. Some will even make you feel like you are doing them a favor by writing about their experience and opinions.
3. Ask your contacts for contacts.
4. You might be a better writer than you think. Give a new subject a fighting chance before saying no.
5. It doesn’t hurt to pad your resume, confidence-level, and wallet by trying something new.
Beth Hering is a non-fiction writer living in South Elgin, Ill. She is a blogger for Johnson & Johnson’s BabyCenter (momformation.com), the Senior Editor of Health and Safety Issues for Charityguide.org, and a frequent contributor to iParenting.com.