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Eight Ways to Become a Creative Strategist
by Jennifer Brown Banks

About a month ago, while watching post election coverage, I discovered that political candidates actually hire “strategists” to help navigate their careers and increase their odds of overall success. As writers, many of us would also benefit from becoming “strategists” when it comes to elevating our careers, and making the most of our time, talent, and resources.

The savvy scribe realizes that to remain competitive in today’s market, and to be profitable, requires much more than a gift for words and a few creative ideas. With this in mind, here are eight ways to become more strategic and achieve greater writing success in 2009 and beyond.

  1. Look back—Take inventory.  What lessons did you learn from pursuits of the past?  Were some editors more problematic than others?  Did you spend too much time doing research and not enough writing? Did editing projects prove more profitable than writing creative copy? Examine what worked vs. what didn’t and act accordingly.

  2. Plan ahead—Explore Editorial Calendars online, and plan for national observance days in advance.  This will enable you to devote quality time to producing quality work, and insure that you don’t miss any important deadlines.

  3. Play to your strengths—What is your niche?  What do you do better than the average Joe?  Identify it and hone it!

  4. Assess the competition—With the many perks afforded to today’s creative writer, the field is becoming increasingly popular. Consider—who’s at the top of the game in your particular genre of writing? What local businesses or freelance writer offers the same services or has a similar focus or style?  How can you become more individualistic? Better? Quicker? Decide then deliver.

  5. Diversify—Dabble in different creative pursuits. The more you do, the greater your perceived value to clients and editors.

  6. Join a writer’s group—The support and feedback will propel you to new heights! My participation in Chicago Writers Association exposes me to like-minded individuals with similar goals and lifestyles.  We serve as both a cheering squad and sounding board for ideas and projects, and help keep each other motivated and on track. Why not join a group in your local area, or sign up for many of the online groups for writers across the country? Ask other writer friends for recommendations.

  7. Get organized—The ability to successfully juggle multiple writing projects and thereby create multiple streams of income is best achieved by being organized in terms of your time and resources. Purge outdated files.  Clean clutter from your workspace. Start today. Remember that time is money.

  8. Become more proactive—When opportunity doesn’t knock, learn to create your own good fortune.  For example, if you think that you can fill a void at a particular publication or Website, don’t wait for a position to open.  Pitch your ideas to the editor, and explain why you’re uniquely qualified to write that column or cover story. It’s how I got my first paid column writing position. 

By following these eight tips you’ll have a New Year of new projects, new adventures, and an enriched writing career.

© Copyright 2009, Jennifer Brown Banks

Jennifer Brown Banks is the former senior editor of Mahogany Magazine. She holds a B.A. in Business Management and blogs at Penandprosper.blogspot.com

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