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”

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”

Copywriting, Feature Writing

6 Tips for Editing Your Own Writing

Ruth Dawkins: 6 Tips for Editing Your Own Writing

One of the biggest differences I’ve found as I’ve started to expand my writing life to include copywriting as well as features is that as a copywriter you need to be your own editor.

Obviously if you want to make a living from writing you always need to submit your most polished work. Regardless of whether you’re sending it to an editor that you have a longstanding relationship with or a brand new corporate client, you don’t want it to come back covered in red pen.

But while an editor will have a lot of experience helping writers shape their work, copywriting clients often don’t – they’re hiring you to get the words right – so you need to develop the ability to cast an editor’s keen eye over your own work.

There are a few tricks and tips that I use to help with this, and I’m sharing them with you below. Continue reading “6 Tips for Editing Your Own Writing”

Copywriting, Feature Writing, Social Media

Where I Write

Desk belonging to writer Ruth Dawkins

I’ve done more writing – paid, unpaid, copywriting, feature writing, essays, even the occasional poem – since moving to Tasmania than I’ve ever done before. And this is where I do it. My lovely desk.

Computer, cup of tea, several notepads and a complicated system of colour coded post-it notes. What more could a writer need? Continue reading “Where I Write”