The Best Writing and Interviewing and Editing Advice I've Ever Gotten
A few months ago, I was supposed to talk to an NYU class about freelancing, but then my flight was delayed and I had a hell-ish layover and the timing wasn’t working out, so I wrote this one-pager for them instead. I’ve been upstate for the last few days cosplaying as an outdoor girl and haven’t had time to finish the thing I meant to send tonight. Alas: I thought some of Hung Up’s readers might find this advice about writing useful, too.
For the newsletter: There are so many ways a newsletter post is written. Sometimes it’s an idea I’ve been thinking about for months or years, and finally there’s a good peg. Sometimes I can just write 500 words about a trending topic that I have a thought or two about. Sometimes I’m in the group chat just cooking, and that’s how I know what the newsletter should be about. I did a reader survey once, and someone said they can tell when I don’t really care about something. That was freeing. I can’t pretend to watch Pump Rules (although I do really want to watch Pump Rules); I think way too much about Leo DiCaprio or Bennifer or Tree Paine, and that’s a better use of my time and resources.
For freelancing: It’s harder to pitch profiles as a freelancer because it’s such a dance of access and timing and, honestly, magic. (The planets have to align at just the right time for you to be interested in someone who has something to promote and a willing publicist, and, and, and…) I don’t pitch a lot, so usually an assignment starts with an editor sending me an email and asking if I have thoughts about someone, or if the publication has gotten time with them. (If it’s an editor I haven’t worked with before, sometimes we’ll have a call where I’m just thinking out loud about someone’s career or what I think about them.) I think it’s best for a check-in of some sort, just so I know what the editor is expecting, and I can share with her how I’m feeling going into it — this is especially helpful when it’s about how much time to spend trying to get at into a particular topic with talent and we can both decide the best use of that time. (Somewhere in this process are also a dozen emails figuring out logistics, like where something will happen, how much time we’ll get, when the photo shoot is, and when my deadline is.)
The best interviewing advice I’ve ever gotten is that