Reality Check

For anyone who ends up here because you are considering going into editorial freelance writing, here is one article by Richard Morgan that you must read before dipping your toes into the somewhat perilous water.

I don’t have the illustrious portfolio of Morgan and also am nowhere near as entertaining and ballsy, but some of the points he made really resonated with me – which means, the following things will probably happen to you at some point in your freelance life should you choose this path:

“I pitched him over the phone. He gave me the green light and hung up. I sat there happy beyond belief, but also totally confused by this editor—as I would be confused by many, many editors still to come—because he had not told me how many words to submit, or given me a deadline, or mentioned pay.”

I’m still not sure why some editors always miss out on these crucial details, especially when they get incredibly particular about other things. (“Your bullet points are not aligned.”)

“Freelancing isn’t just about finding good stories. It is also—more so?—about finding good editors.”

Very, very important. If there’s no (for lack of better word) synergy between the editor and you, the story just won’t work out or even get past pitching stage for that matter. Even better if you manage to find an editor who recognises and appreciates your writing style and is able to bring out the best in it through subtle refining as opposed to writing new fiction. (A long, long time ago, one of my “hard hitting issues” feature stories suddenly sprouted some crying scenes that never occurred.)

“Freelancing has great rewards, but trajectory is not really one of them. You do not go from being a freelance writer to a freelance editor to a freelance deputy managing editor.”

This is what used to really get my goat because of the progressive pathway mentality that most of society ascribes to. But now, I think the beauty of this arrangement is that you get to choose how you want to develop yourself further, and not just fulfil someone else’s KPIs. Of course, this means some discipline in creating that bit of structure to achieve concrete goals – quite a challenge but nowhere as scary as you think (I think).


 

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