Friday, 14 December 2012

Serious Face

By 'serious face,' I mean 'non-fiction.'

As well as novels, I also enjoy writing the occasional article for magazines and websites. I did a piece on the development of the Rwandan Sign Language Dictionary for British Deaf News, and covered events such as Shaggy's visit to Kigali for Eyecon Magazine.

I even used to make rather good money writing about credit cards and student overdrafts, until it sent me to sleep.

Nowadays, I write a Voluntary Sector blog, and the occasional How To for a non-profit wiki.

Thus far, they've dubbed me 'good egg' of 2011, and last week held up my How To Fundrais Using Facebook as an exemplary addition to the knowledge pool. I've also had fun in the forum contemplating everything from pregnancy discrimination to broaching difficult subjects with volunteers.

Never underestimate the power of biscuits... They don't just taste nice, they also provide you with a useful distraction technique. In unpredictable meetings you sometimes need to take a moment to digest what someone has just said and consider your response. Reaching for a biscuit fills your mouth up just long enough to provide those extra few seconds of think time.

I know it's not for everyone, but most writers, at least some of the time, manage to hold down other jobs. Magazines, blogs, wikis and websites provide a fantastic opportunity to hone your skills whilst touting your expertise. The two main areas this type of writing has helped me with have been:

  1. Discipline: I started writing for Suit101 back when it was first setting out. 'In my day,' said the veteran, you had to churn out ten articles a quarter or risk losing your account. Their style sheet took about a day to read, and I regularly got my ears boxed by their editors. I think it's relaxed a bit since then. The 'click-per-ad' pay wasn't great, it's not a career choice, but it did teach me a lot about writing to deadlines and house rules.
  2. Renown: I can confidently say that I have picked up at least five new consultancy leads in the past six months who found me via my online articles. Along with that comes quite a few requests for more free information, but I'm getting better at drawing the line.

As well as honing my skills as a technical writer, the discipline involved has helped me to build up a stock of resource material. I'm thinking of pulling it all together to write a Voluntary Sector self-help book in the New Year. Can't possible be as difficult to sell as fiction!

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