Looking for a fresh article idea? An engaging topic? An interesting person to profile?
Don’t discount yourself. The fact that freelancers so often look outward in search of interesting people, places, and things to write about can sometimes blind them to the fact that aspects of their own lives, too, may be abundantly noteworthy.
I’ve never considered myself an expert on anything. I do some things well but figure a million other people do them better. Given my outlook, it’s easy to see why I dismissed my own life experiences as subject material for as long as I did.
Then one day, in a lonely hotel room, I found myself thinking about one of my passions: snapping turtles. As a longtime snapping turtle aficionada, I’ve logged eight hours watching a mama snapper dig and deposit 100+ eggs, and spent another four hours, months later, watching the hatchlings tunnel up from the earth. Who else might be interested in my observations? I suddenly wondered. The resulting children’s article, published in Highlights for Children, quickly became my most reprinted piece ever. Lesson learned? Passion sells: yours, mine-anyone’s!
If your life initially seems too ho-hum to write about, think about what makes you tick. Take a good look around your home, yard, street, and town. Pretend you’re a stranger to the area. What do you see that might make a compelling story? Consider how you spend your time: jobs held, places explored, children and pets raised, hobbies enjoyed, causes supported. How have your interests shifted over time? What’s on your bucket list? And, how will you achieve those things?
Life happens to all of us, but our paths are incredibly convoluted and diverse. By sharing our experiences and observations, we can pass along our passions, encourage one another, offer a different POV or make people laugh. It’s all in our approach and tone.
Writers sometimes fear they’ll come off sounding arrogant or egocentric if they write about themselves, but being aware of that possibility is half the battle. If you begin to feel self-conscious or self-indulgent while writing (sensing your article smacks of me/Me/ME!), vary your approach. Try different angles. Experiment until you find a voice that not only suits the information you wish to convey but leaves you feeling comfortable as well.
Freelancers are trained to look outward for inspiration. But, looking inward now and then – and reflecting upon your own unique life experiences -c an be good for the soul…and the wallet.
A freelance writer, piano teacher, mom and grandma, Wendy Hobday Haugh lives in upstate New York with her husband and two cats.
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