Saturday, July 26, 2014

Copywriting Class review

I recently began exploring ways to earn some part of my living from writing. Of course there is the obvious, write books and sell books. But that road takes time. Meanwhile having a second job to cover the times when my full time job is light means less time for writing.

Last year I had less work from my full time job than I've had in previous years and during one of the times when my stage was dark I spent 6 weeks working a day job. The pay was much less than what I make at my full time job and an hour commute each way left me feeling drained at the end of the day. It was really heartbreaking for me because I felt like I had failed at my dream of becoming a writer. But it also made me start asking myself how I could use writing to support myself.

A brainstorming session with my writing partner gave me several avenues to explore, including copywriting and copyediting.

After exploring several options I finally decided on a Writer's Digest class called Breaking into Copywriting. This class was a four week class that promised an introduction to copywriting. The goal of the four week class was to create a spec ad that we could use to start a portfolio.

This class did not disappoint. I love taking online classes because I love the freedom of being able to do the course work anywhere. This class was $200, which was less than other copywriting classes from sites like MediaBistro. The fact that I've already had some good experiences with Writer's Digest in the past, hello Children's Writer's and Illustrator's Market guide, made them the right choice.

I am still in the beginning stages of building a portfolio of this type of writing. I just reached out to my second client this week and have a follow-up meeting with my first client next week. I am hopeful that this could be the part time gig or side gig that would allow me to have more time to write and be less concerned about ups and downs and uncertainty in my current career.

Like all online classes I believe that this class is largely what each individual brings to it. The class consisted of readings and homework. There was also an online discussion forum. The instructor was wonderful at providing feedback for the homework, encouraging discussion topics, and answering questions. I think if you do the readings, do the homework, and participate in the forums you will get all you can get out of the class. 

I left the class with a spec ad and a desire to explore more in this field. I actually managed to line up my first client when my friends heard I was taking the class. While July has been extremely busy and not left much time to reach out to other potential clients I have reached out to my second client and am really excited to see how it goes. The fact that I have two jobs means that I am taking things slow for now.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Time with kids

I write for kids despite not having any children of my own. 

I sometimes wonder if this puts me at a disadvantage. While I may have more time to write than I would have if I was a parent, I am not spending time with a kid 24/7. So all those story ideas and insight into a child's mind a view of things that parents see in their own kids I don't really get the opportunity to see.

I do teach swimming lessons, babysit for friends, and cherish any time I spend with my niece, nephew, or any other child in life. 

So when my dad called and asked if my 12 year old stepsister could come and visit for a week this summer I said yes.

Our week was full of fun things including a day at the Mall of America, seeing a play at the Guthrie Theater, a trip to the zoo, daily visits to Mercado Central for tacos, tamales, and dulces- all things my stepsister misses from her life in Mexico, and a day at Valleyfair.

The zoo was such a great experience because she has only been to one other zoo, three years ago when she was 9 she went to the San Diego zoo.  Seeing her excitement over seeing these animals in the zoo, taking videos, and instagramming every animal was a lot of fun.

I thought that having a fame obsessed 12 year old staying with me for a week would be wonderful for my MG project in which one of the characters hopes to go viral. Although my step sister knows she wants to be famous she would not divulge her reasons to me. But observing how she gets energy and feeds on the approval of social media as she goes about her activities was interesting to see.

The week had our ups and downs as I think she was homesick, missing her friends, and involved in some Facebook drama which led me to try to limit the time she spent online.

I realize that when people see me with my stepsister they probably make assumptions about us and our relationship to each other.  I am, after all, the age of a parent in relation to her. I'm sure people have lots of questions about our family but I just try to go through the day confidently and being a good sister to her. 

If I thought she'd be interested in reading something I've written I was wrong. She is obsessed with horror. Scary movies, scary stories, and has no time for anything outside of this genre. "I wish you wrote scary stories so I could read them," she told me.

If my 12 year old sister was quiet and reserved, trying to hide any evidence that she was having a good time by quickly hiding any smile and complaining. My seven year old niece who came to visit the opposite week was the opposite. Seeing these complex emotions will definitely give me some perspective as I work on my MG novel. 

My niece loves her aunt Carrie and seeing her pure joy as she experienced The Little Mermaid at Chanhassen Dinner Theatre, art at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, dinosaurs at the Science Museum, and animals at the Minnesota Zoo was amazing. She charmed every person she met on the bus and train as we travelled around the city.

My niece is so honest with her emotions. She was so excited about some jellyfish that swam near us during The Little Mermaid that she spilled her diet coke on me while waving her arms around in excitement. 

Seeing her fall in love with a spider at the Big Bugs exhibit at the Minnesota Zoo has sparked the seed to this month's 12x12 picture book manuscript. 
I head back to work today feeling blessed and lucky to have the chance to spend time with such wonderful kids.