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?”

Copywriting, freelance life

Getting Digital Ready for 2019

Laptop on Table captioned 'Getting Digital Ready for 2019 Ruth Dawkins'

It has been a busy November and December here. I know that in the northern hemisphere, a lot of writers find this a quiet time. From Thanksgiving onwards, a lot of organisations and publications slow down for the holiday season. Then, come January, it’s back to business as usual.

Here in the south, it’s almost the opposite. January is when everything shuts down for the summer so there’s a mad rush to get things tied up before then. The Tasmanian school holidays start in less than a fortnight, so I’m desperately trying to get my desk cleared (and invoices submitted!) in that time.

I’ve just finished a really interesting piece of work for a tourism organisation: ten short pieces of writing focusing on different activities around the state. It made me realise that even after five years here we have barely scratched the surface. It also made me slightly embarrassed to realise that when we have travelled around Tasmania, most of our focus has been on beaches, wineries and short walks, rather than anything more adventurous. Perhaps 2019 will be the year when I finally go canyoning at Cradle Mountain, or mountain biking at Maydena. Or perhaps not… Continue reading “Getting Digital Ready for 2019”

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”

freelance life, Reading

Helsinki… and a whole heap of books

Ruth Dawkins freelance writer blog image

I’m just back at my desk after three weeks of travel with my family in Europe.

We started with a fortnight in Scotland, visiting friends and relatives in the Outer Hebrides and Edinburgh, and then to break up the long trip back to Australia we spent a few days in Helsinki. What a wonderful city! We loved the friendly people, the beautiful food, and the fantastic architecture. I’m definitely keen to visit again in future.

If you ever find yourself in Helsinki, we would highly recommend the hotel we stayed in: Hotel Katajanokka. A converted prison, it is well situated near the ferry terminal, and is within easy walking distance of the city centre. If you don’t fancy walking, there is a tram stop right at the front door. The hotel also has a wonderful restaurant, spacious rooms and a fascinating history – it was a great find!

Travel is always so much fun, but as a bit of a homebody I’ve got to confess that I love sleeping in my own bed again, and cooking in my own kitchen. I’m even enjoying being back to work and slowly sifting through a very full inbox! Continue reading “Helsinki… and a whole heap of books”

freelance life, Social Media

15 creative women doing great things online

Ruth Dawkins writer suggests 15 creative women to follow online

One of the things I’ve really appreciated over the last year of freelancing is discovering what a supportive community of creative women there is out there. In addition to all the Facebook groups and websites for writers, some of which I mentioned in an earlier post on this blog, there are some wonderful individuals who regularly share their knowledge and experience online to help others.

If I’m having a difficult day in the (home!) office, it’s an absolute gift to know there are several people I can send a quick message to who will understand whatever mini crisis I’m going through. And, if I’m struggling for inspiration, there’s an absolute multitude of newsletters, websites and social media feeds that I know will always give me a boost.

To celebrate that spirit of sharing, I thought I’d collate some of my favourites here for you: creative women doing great things online. Continue reading “15 creative women doing great things online”

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”

Copywriting, Feature Writing, freelance life

Mothers Always Write

Mothers Always Write front page image

A very quick blog update from me to share a piece that I’ve had published this week.

Mothers Always Write is one of my favourite sites to visit for beautiful poetry and non-fiction about parenting. I did an essay writing bootcamp with them a few years back which was hugely valuable in terms of the resources they provided for background reading and the one-on-one feedback on a piece of work from one of their editors. It was very reasonably priced too – I’d highly recommend it if they run another in future.

Continue reading “Mothers Always Write”

Copywriting, freelance life

2018: A New Freelance Year Begins

happy new year 2018

Happy New Year!

I know, I know… I’m almost seven weeks late to the party. But since moving to Tasmania, I’ve had to recalibrate my internal calendar.

Back in the UK, January was the time for getting stuck back into work after the excesses of Christmas. It was always a little tough to find any enthusiasm for ambitious plans and new projects when it was still cold, dark and wintery outside.

Here in Australia though, January is all about the joys of the summer holidays – swimming, sunshine and ice cream – with work dropping much lower down the priority list. Continue reading “2018: A New Freelance Year Begins”

freelance life

Boredom Box Ideas for Work at Home Parents

150+ Boredom Box Ideas by Ruth Dawkins

When people ask what the best and worst thing is about having only one child, I never have any problems answering the question. The best is that I’m able to give my son lots of attention and we have an absolute ton of fun together. The worst is that there are times when I’m his only playmate and honestly, I just don’t want to start that second game of Monopoly, or that third game of Police Chase.

Boredom in kids can be a really good thing because it can spark their imagination. One of my favourite ever guest posts over on my parenting blog DorkyMum was from my friend Chris Mosler, who normally blogs as Thinly Spread, writing about why letting your children experience boredom is so valuable.

But that statement comes with caveats. Unlike Chris’s children, my son doesn’t have siblings to keep an eye on him. In contrast with my upbringing on a tiny island, we now live in a city with a lot of busy roads nearby, and not many friends within walking distance. He is only eight, and I don’t feel comfortable yet just kicking him out of the house in the morning and welcoming him back for dinner.

The flexibility of freelance life means that I feel very lucky having so much time to spend with my son, and I intentionally keep school holidays very quiet on the work front. Even so, the thought of seven long weeks of holiday stretching ahead of us is a daunting one, and I know that I will need the occasional hour to myself to catch up on emails.

With that in mind, I’m doing something new this year and creating a boredom box. It’s nothing fancy: just a decorated shoebox containing a couple of notepads, stationery and craft supplies, and two jars full of suggestions for activities. Continue reading “Boredom Box Ideas for Work at Home Parents”