Copywriting, Feature Writing, freelance life, Writing

My freelance year: the good, the bad and the ugly

black background with caption 'My freelance year: the good, the bad and the ugly' by Ruth Dawkins

Another year just about done!

2019 has been a very busy one here, so I thought I’d finish it by sharing a quick post with you about the good, the bad, and the ugly of my year in work. I am a big fan of being transparent about the highs and lows of freelancing, so that others who are considering making that jump have a realistic sense of what it entails. Continue reading “My freelance year: the good, the bad and the ugly”

Reading

My Top Reads of 2019

Tall stack of books with caption 'My top reads of 2019' by Ruth Dawkins

Have I mentioned before how much I enjoy reading? I think I might have! Once… or perhaps twice.

2019 has been an absolute cracker of a year for good books. My targeted approach of only buying and borrowing books that are on my wishlist – rather than lucky dipping from the sale table – seems to paying dividends. I’ve not encountered many duds this year at all.

We still have a couple of weeks to go, but my reading stats for 2019 are:

Books read: 117

Books started but abandoned before the end: 6

(I don’t like criticising books publicly because reading is such a personal thing, but message me on social media or email me if you want to know what they were!) Continue reading “My Top Reads of 2019”

Writing

Reflections on my first NaNoWriMo

Caption 'I've just finished my first NaNoWriMo... now what?' on yellow background

I’ve just finished my very first NaNoWriMo.

Sort of.

NaNoWriMo – National Novel Writing Month – is an annual endeavour in which people all around the world attempt to write a novel in a month. A novel, in this case, meaning 50,000 words, or around 1600 words a day.

I haven’t actually written a novel, I’ve written non-fiction. I suppose that means that if I’d been doing NaNoWriMo officially, I would have been a member of the NaNoRebels group. But as I didn’t sign up to the website as a formal participant, I can’t even claim that. Continue reading “Reflections on my first NaNoWriMo”

Feature Writing

A New Essay at Literary Mama

Screenshot of Literary Mama website

Just a quick post to let you know that I have a new personal essay up at Literary Mama today.

I’ve been doing a lot more commercial writing work this year, which has meant less time for personal essays and blog posts, but I’m grateful that I still have time to do the occasional one.

Earlier in the year, my son decided he didn’t want me to read him a bedtime story anymore. It felt like a big milestone, and I was full of feelings… 1800 words of feelings, in fact!

It’s always a joy to work with the great editorial team at Literary Mama, so I’m really pleased to see the resulting piece – The Last Bedtime Story – be published as part of their November/December issue.

Reading

Women’s Nature Writing

flatlay image of autumn leaves, glasses and a notebook on a wooden table, with the text 'Women's Nature Writing'

Kathleen Jamie’s new book Surfacing landed in my mailbox last week, and I can’t wait to read it. Kathleen is a Scottish poet and essayist, and Surfacing is her third collection – following Findings and Sightlines – of what you’d probably call nature writing, although that term does little justice to her delightful touch.

I was interested to read an interview with Kathleen in the Guardian last week, which dealt with the question of whether contemporary nature writing is overly dominated by white men. (Spoiler – it is.)

That’s not to say that there aren’t some wonderful men out there, producing great work – there are, and you’ve probably read at least some of them. (Hi, Robert MacFarlane…) But the natural world is too beautiful for us to only read about it through that one narrow lens.

Unfortunately, what the Guardian piece didn’t do was highlight any of the alternatives, of which there are many. So I thought I’d take sometime to pull together a non-exhaustive list of writers, books, essays and sites that you might like to explore if this subject interests you. It really is just a way of dipping your toe in the water – there’s so much out there and if you’re anything like me you’ll discover that following one interesting link leads you to a dozen more.

Have fun getting lost in nature! And feel free to leave a comment below with your own recommendations.

Continue reading “Women’s Nature Writing”

Copywriting

Tasmania: Come Down for Air

Tourism Tasmania Come Down for Air campaign launch image

I was really excited yesterday to see that Tourism Tasmania have launched their latest campaign – Come Down For Air.

The behind-the-scenes details of the brand launch, which includes commercials, videos, adverts and a dedicated Come Down for Air website can be found on the Tourism Tasmania website, while the public facing site is DiscoverTasmania.com/air. Continue reading “Tasmania: Come Down for Air”

Reading

Do you need to own books to love them?

Weekend of Reading Tasmania - Do you have to own books to love them?

The inaugural Weekend of Reading took place in Hobart over the weekend. It was a fantastic three-day event, organised by Kate Harrison and Jane Rawson, which kicked off on Friday night with the announcement of the Tasmanian Premier’s Literary Prize shortlists.

I was really pleased when Kate and Jane – who work together under the banner of Read Tasmania – asked me to take part in one of the panel discussions. Along with fellow Hobart writers Peter Timms and Ruth Quibell, I tackled the question ‘Do you need to own books to love them?’ Continue reading “Do you need to own books to love them?”

Feature Writing

Guardian feature on Aurora Australis

Screenshot of a Guardian Australia Feature on the Aurora Australis by Ruth Dawkins

I have a piece up at Guardian Australia today about the final season of the icebreaker Aurora Australis, which has spent the last thirty years transporting cargo and crew to Antarctica.

This was a lot of fun to write, and I’m very grateful to the researchers and writers who took time to speak with me.

One cool fact that didn’t make it into the article – the ship is painted the same colour as San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge!

freelance life

How to deal with disappointment as a freelancer

Woman sitting alone looking out to sea, captioned 'How to deal with disappointment as a freelancer'

Disappointment is part of life when you work as a freelancer – whatever your industry.

Even within the narrow field of writing, opportunities for disappointment abound. There will always be a pitch that is rejected, an editor who doesn’t respond, a client who thinks your rates are too high, or a project that just doesn’t turn out quite right…

In order to succeed as a freelancer – and for the sake of your mental wellbeing – it’s important to accept that you will encounter disappointments both big and small. The best way of dealing with disappointment looks different for everyone, but I’m sharing some of my own strategies below.

This is a timely post, because last week I heard that I hadn’t been successful with a grant application. Even though the news was expected and didn’t come as a surprise, it was still disappointing to have it confirmed, and since then I’ve been working through some of these steps. Continue reading “How to deal with disappointment as a freelancer”

Copywriting, freelance life

Working from home as a couple

Work desk with books, pencils and glasses. Captioned 'working from home as a couple... here's how we do it.' by Ruth Dawkins

My husband and I have just survived our first year working from home together.

Actually, let me rephrase that. My husband and I have just finished a fantastic first year working from home together.

I’ve been a freelancer working from my home office for almost ten years. The amount of work I’ve taken on has increased as my son has grown older and spent more time away from me – first in childcare and then at primary school. But throughout that time I’ve had the chance to put systems and processes in place that maximise my efficiency, and I’ve developed the required discipline to ignore the piles of laundry that always need putting away and instead sit down at my desk, day after day. Continue reading “Working from home as a couple”