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!

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”

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?”

Reading

Reading makes me a better writer: here’s why

Stack of books and caption 'Being a reader makes me a better writer... here's why.'

It’s no great secret that I’m a big reader. I’ve published several posts on this blog about my favourite books, and over on Instagram I run an account called @ruthreadsbooks which functions as a visual reading diary.

You can imagine then how pleased I was to find this recent study, which concluded that reading makes you a more empathetic person.

I’ve long-believed that being a keen reader makes me a better writer, and developing empathy is a key part of that. Whether you’re writing creatively and trying to put yourself in the position of a reader who wants to be engaged and entertained, or whether you’re writing copy and trying to make sure what you deliver keeps your client happy, the ability to see other perspectives and viewpoints is crucial. Continue reading “Reading makes me a better writer: here’s why”

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”

Reading

My Top 10 Books of 2018… so far

Top 10 Books of 2018 So Far Ruth Dawkins

My husband and I were lying in bed reading the other night and I could feel him giving me a sideways glance.

“Is that another new one?” he asked.

“Yes,” I said. “Why?”

He made a face at me.

“You read so much. It’s like… it’s like an OBSESSION.”

I can’t understand is why that’s supposed to be a bad thing, can you?!

I read much in the same way that I eat: quickly, and with great delight. But I’m much more choosy about my reading material than I used to be. Whereas I used to wander into a bookstore and choose whatever was included the 3 for 2 offer, now I only let myself buy things from a carefully curated wishlist. Life’s too short for bad books.

So far in 2018 I’ve read 28 books: 18 fiction and 10 non-fiction; 21 by women, 4 by men and 3 anthologies that were a mixture of both. Two of the books were slightly disappointing – not because they were bad, but because they weren’t what I was expecting – but the others have all been fabulous. I thought I would recommend some of my favourites here.
Continue reading “My Top 10 Books of 2018… so far”

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”

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, Reading

12 Great Books about Writing

Ruth Dawkins Copywriter Recommends 12 Best Books about writing

If you’ve read previous posts on this blog, or if you follow me online, you’ll know that my two favourite things in the world are reading and writing. So, what do you get when you combine those two interests?

Books about writing!

I thought I’d compile a list of my favourite books about writing so if you’re ever looking for inspiration, or advice on how to hone your craft, you’ll have some options to choose from. Continue reading “12 Great Books about Writing”

Feature Writing

September 2017 Writing News

 

Sunbeams in Hobart Tasmania

This September marked four years since our arrival in Tasmania.

I wrote a post for my DorkyMum blog about some of my thoughts and feelings about that celebration, which also falls around the time of our tenth wedding anniversary. Along with the lighter days and warmer spring weather, there have been lots of reasons to celebrate!

Work-wise September was one of those months that felt very busy with lots of little tasks. I wrote a good few posts for my own website, including recommendations for the best places to read personal essays, a list of useful resources for Australian writers and a lighthearted piece about my obsession with reading. Continue reading “September 2017 Writing News”