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Write From Home
Kim Wilson
P.O. Box 4145
Hamilton, NJ 08610

E-mail: kim @ writefromhome.com

Starting Local
by Terri Mrosko

I wanted to be a writer for as long as I can remember. After being gloriously downsized from a business administration position after 20 years, the opportunity to pursue a freelance writing career presented itself in the form of a hefty severance package. I knew from various seminars and books that becoming a freelance writer and being paid for my work would not be easy.

Following the advice from other writers, I decided to start at the bottom and approached one of the local community newspapers, The News Sun. The editor's face lit up when I introduced myself as a freelance writer, but the delight quickly faded when I responded I had no experience covering city council meetings. I handed her my resume and told her I would call. I was discouraged, but determined to not let this one go.

A week later I contacted The News Sun editor. Once again, she downplayed my lack of a journalism degree and newspaper experience. I persuaded her to give me a shot, telling her she had nothing to lose. She reluctantly agreed that if I covered a council meeting on my own, she would read my write-up. I felt this was my big "break."

I purchased an external microphone for my new hand-held tape recorder to be sure I got all the comments at the council meeting. I walked into the meeting and acted as if I knew what I was doing. I introduced myself to a couple of council members and told them I was writing a feature for the local newspaper.

During the meeting, my tape recorder ran while I furiously took notes. As the meeting drew to a close, I suddenly looked down and realized I forgot to turn on the microphone switch. I got nothing on tape. I was panicked and heartbroken.

Lacking the confidence to simply write from my notes, I decided to focus on just one item from the meeting and write an article about it. I interviewed the community center project director who presented an update to council. I simply called and told him I was writing a story for the newspaper. This time, my recorder was ready to go, as I tested it out at least a half dozen times before the interview.

I presented my completed piece to The New Sun editor. I sat in the chair in her office and waited breathlessly for the verdict on my first try at newspaper writing. The editor read the first few lines and said she would buy it on sight for $25. I was thrilled! All I heard was "I will buy it from you for..." but that was enough for me.

I continued to write a couple more articles for this editor, but she could not offer me anything more than a $25 article here or there. My confidence bolstered, I approached a second community newspaper, The West Life, and this time landed the community beat for my city. After all, I was now an experienced "reporter."

I continued to write feature articles for The West Life while querying other magazines and publications and successfully sold over 100 articles in my first year as a writer. That small check for $25 may not have seemed like a lot at the time, but it opened the door to many more opportunities.

Terri Mrosko is a freelance business writer and communications coach, and the editor and publisher of two Enhanced Communication newsletters. Terri is a regular contributor to Crain's Cleveland Business and The Plain Dealer Employment Guide, and she also helps business owners get the word out about their companies. Terri  published nearly 300 articles in just over two years as a full-time writer and spent a year as a monthly columnist for The Writing Parent. Her work has appeared in Writing-World.com, Inscriptions, Inkspot, Succeed Magazine, Aviation Career, Now Hiring and many other print and online publications. Terri is currently writing her first book on starting a freelance writing career from scratch. Visit her website at http://www.iwritesite.com for free subscription signup to her newsletters.









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