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”

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.

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!

Feature Writing, Reading

The best essays of 2019… so far!

Old typewriter on wooden desk with caption 'The best essays of 2019 so far' by Ruth Dawkins

According to my blog stats, a post I wrote back in 2017 about 20 Places to Read Great Personal Essays has proved to be enduringly popular. I suspect it’s mainly other writers who seek it out, looking for publications that might be a good fit to submit their own personal essays to. But perhaps there are also a few people out there – like me – who just really enjoy reading good quality essays and feature articles online.

One problem I’ve found over the years is that I tend to lose track of those favourite reads. I save the link on Facebook, or favourite it on Twitter… but then never manage to go back and read it a second time. Sometimes I forget to save it at all, which can be infuriating if I’m trying to find it again later! I’ll remember a great turn of phrase, or a theme that resonated, but no combination of Google search terms will bring the piece back to me. Continue reading “The best essays of 2019… so far!”

Copywriting, Feature Writing, freelance life

How to get out of a writing slump

Image of crumpled paper in a bin and wording 'How to get out of a writing slump' by Ruth Dawkins

Write a content calendar, they said!

Plan a year’s worth of blog posts in advance, they said!

So, I did, and yet somehow it’s May 7th and I’m only now publishing the post that I’d planned for early April… I’ve had two big copywriting projects on the go, both of which required me to work through the school holidays, so when I did have spare time it felt much more important to spend that with my family rather than tinkering away in the back of my website.

However, school is now back, my diary is a little more under control, and I’ve got a chance to share this post that has been sitting in note form in my drafts folder for several weeks.

Somewhat ironically, given how busy I’ve been, I decided that in April I would write about how to get yourself out of a writing slump. Continue reading “How to get out of a writing slump”

Feature Writing

SBS feature on Antarctica

Screenshot of SBS news piece on sexism in Antarctica by Ruth Dawkins

I was really pleased to have my first piece published with SBS a couple of weeks ago. I’d written a couple of pieces for their lifestyle section – SBS Life – a while back, but never for the news section.

Timed to coincide with International Women’s Day, it was a reported piece about the gendered barriers to conducting Antarctic fieldwork, pegged on a study that was led by researchers at the University of Tasmania.

Even though the word count grew significantly from the initial commission – from 1000 words to 1600 – there was still a huge amount that I was disappointed to leave out. It was fascinating and very inspiring speaking to a number of women who work in Antarctic research – some in humanities and social sciences, others in biology and climate science – and I hope I can do a follow up piece further down the line.

If you’d like to read it, it’s here: SBS News – Even in Antarctica, women are experiencing sexism.

Copywriting, Feature Writing, freelance life

Should you ever write for free?

Caption 'Should you ever write for free' above dollar bill

The question of whether a professional writer – or an aspiring professional writer – should ever write for free is one that comes up regularly in online groups and discussion forums, and it always provokes healthy debate.

One camp says no, never, absolutely not. A writer should never write for free: we should value our time and expertise; by completing work without payment we’re undercutting other writers; and besides, no-one can pay the rent with ‘exposure’.

The opposing camp would say that writers – especially those who are new to the business – need to build their experience and portfolio and writing for free is often a good way to do that.

Ever keen to find a compromise, I find myself sitting somewhat awkwardly between the two camps. Continue reading “Should you ever write for free?”

Feature Writing, freelance life

From brainstorm to byline: the story of a story

washington-post-logo-white

Last Friday, I secured what is undoubtedly my biggest byline to date: The Washington Post. I had an essay published in their Soloish column about being catapulted unexpectedly into the role of Agony Aunt for couples all over the world.

You can read the essay here.

Along with the New York Times, WaPo is probably the ultimate publication for most op-ed and essay writers. It is a well-respected, prestigious newspaper with a huge readership and fantastic editors.

The acceptance email from the Soloish editor Lisa Bonos – which I read on my phone as I was making my son’s school lunch – prompted me to do an actual happy dance around the kitchen.

Was there whooping?

There may have been whooping. Continue reading “From brainstorm to byline: the story of a story”

Copywriting, Feature Writing, freelance life

Freelance Life: One Year On

Ruth Dawkins blog post: Freelance Life One Year On

It’s a year exactly since I launched this website and this phase of my writing career.

Although freelancing has its challenges, barely a day goes past when I don’t take a moment to consider what a privilege it is being paid to put words on a page. I may not be an award-winning novelist or playwright, but 15-year-old me is still pinching herself and feeling very lucky indeed.

The last few months have been my busiest yet. Continue reading “Freelance Life: One Year On”