I’m taking a class at Hugo House, Seattle’s refuge for writers of all levels and types set across from Cal Anderson Park in Cap Hill. I’ve been a writer all my life, most notably beginning in 1984 when a drama class teacher required us to keep a trite daily journal. After that class ended, I never stopped writing.
“Getting Started as a Freelancer” is the name of the online course I signed up for, taught by Nicole Dieker. My intention isn’t to figure out how to build a freelance writing career, but I do want to know if the approach to submissions, solicited or unsolicited, has changed much since I last shopped around pieces for publication some 10 years ago.
The first week has been more intense than expected. While the format isn’t unfamiliar to me, having taken writing classes before, the lessons have forced me to think, to let go, to share with others. We’ve been asked to zero in on our “beats,” the areas of interest we like to write about most. From there, I got to reign in my over-active left brain to pick up to 3 particular article ideas within one – maybe two – of those beats.
Other classmates have shared their creative process and some are as unruly as mine. My creative impulses often explode, firing off ideas like shooting stars that would fill a galaxy. I came up with 10 beats without too much angst. The leashed anxiety breaks loose when I must choose where to place my focus, so I was glad to read that others feel similar pain.
I’ve been published – and paid – before. Many times. Today, writing is part of my daily life and comes in many forms. Blog posts for Mark Jacobs’ Seattle and Fences & Flowers by Coldwell Banker Bain real estate, social media posts, articles, marketing pieces, business writings, notes to clients, letters to editors and an ongoing stream of consciousness for a new novel clacked out on my laptop at sometimes completely inconceivable hours.
That first journal from drama class, filled with events of the day rather than emotions or changing perspectives, was the naive start to a life-long relationship with words. It led me down many paths of writing and shelves of journals. I still keep one going when deeper self-examination calls me to the blank page. It’s a touchstone I quickly grab onto in times of confusion, celebration, rampant change, contentment, death and spiritual experience.
Rediscovering an old writing path in this freelancing class has been a trip. And, we just took our first steps. I do hope my classmates keep displaying their own streams of consciousness as they grapple with our assignments. I’ll definitely keep sharing mine. Knowing I’m not alone in my creative bursts may be the biggest – and most comforting – lesson so far. I’ll keep you posted.