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Eight Ways to Be a Well-Rounded Writer
by Jennifer Brown Banks

“Write what you know” is the cardinal rule of writing. But today's savvy writer recognizes that to pen pieces solely on familiar topics greatly limits one's earning potential as well as personal growth. A smarter, more strategic approach to a successful career is to write what is required. It's a simple law of supply and demand.

As a veteran freelance writer with more than 500 publishing credits in dozens of online and print publications, I can attest that I have often had to expand my creative horizons in order to expand my bottom line. And you should too.

Here's a case in point. About seven years ago, an editor of a lifestyle magazine of which I was a contributing writer, gave me a special assignment.

My mission? To write a 800-1200 word feature article on single parent adoption. Huh? I had no inkling of what this would entail on a personal level, nor did I know anyone whom I could direct questions. But, I bridged my gaps in knowledge by doing research, both online and through phone calls. I was able to pull it off and maintain the continued confidence of my editor.

Just like in the corporate world, the more versatile and flexible you are, the more marketable you become to editors.

To this end, here are eight ways to become a well-rounded, well paid writer.

  1. Dabble in different genres—not only is it crucial to your economic survival, it increases your skill set. My proficiency in poetry helps my flow, vocabulary and rhythm in writing articles and essays.

  2. Become an avid reader—I devour books, Blogs, free newspapers, pamphlets, waiting room materials, medical journals, comic strips, and anything I can get my hands on to broaden my knowledge base and my perspective.

  3.  Network—Whether it's through social networks like Linkedin, Facebook, and Twitter, or coffee house meetings with fellow writers, exchanging information and job leads can lead to more creative ideas and varied job assignments.

  4. Stay abreast of current events—They provide great fodder for social and political commentary. Not a fan of the evening news? Try online sources.

  5. Draw from your personal and professional background—These experiences are often useful for how-to’s and personal essays. What have you learned from work woes? Love gone wrong? Getting a degree later in life? Share “ah-ha” moments with your reading audience and help to enhance their lives.

  6. Keep a pen and paper handy at all times—Record thoughts about public conversations, the beauty of nature, general observations, and “Kodak moments” that should be captured while they're vivid and fresh in your mind. A hand held tape recorder is also a handy idea.

  7. Learn to research and navigate the Net—There's a wealth of information and resources at your fingertips. Book mark sites like referencedesk.com, Wikipedia, Dictionary.com, and Grammargirl.com, for easy reference.

  8. Keep growing—Never feel that you know all that you can, or that there's no room for improvement. No matter what your level, don't rest on your laurels.

Follow these eight tips and you'll never have to worry about a lack of work or writing income, no matter how fierce the competition.

© 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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