The 5-Minute Freelancer Q&A #1 – Colleen Kimmett
1. Where are you when most of your story ideas come to you?
I would say usually I’m out and about: at a party or an event or at an interview for another story where I will hear something that piques my interest and decide to follow up on it later.
2. What’s your biggest distraction and how do you resist it?
Probably social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. I recently downloaded an application called Mac Freedom and basically I can lock myself out of those sites for whatever period of time I decide. And it’s been really useful. I find it good not only to keep me from visiting those sites but to set manageable chunks of working time. So if I lock myself out for two hours I’m like, okay, I’m just going to focus on this or that for two hours. I’d recommend it.
3. What non-writing activity do you do to recharge your batteries?
I do a lot of cycling and I garden. And I dance flamenco, I started taking lessons about two years ago.
4. What’s your best strategy for getting over rejected pitches?
I think it’s useful to ask editors why, or to follow up with a phone call saying “are you interested in this angle of the story?” Because sometimes that provides valuable feedback. And as far as getting over it, I think having a strong network of freelancer friends to commiserate with is helpful, because you realize that you’re not the only one getting rejected and some of the best writers you know are also getting rejection letters. And often if I’m talking about a rejection with writer friends, they will point out something like, “had you thought about this,” or “that sounds like it might be perfect for this other publication.” I think that’s important, too. If you sense, OK maybe this was not a great story in the first place, that’s one thing, but if you feel like it was rejected but you’ve still got a good story there, don’t give up on it, try it somewhere else.
• Colleen Kimmett is a Vancouver freelance journalist and a regular contributor to The Tyee. Some of her recent work includes “How a Decent Meal Can Keep People from the Brink” in The Tyee and “The Aerospace Industry’s Growing Pains” in BC Business. You can find her on Twitter at @colleenkimmett •
Where do your best story ideas come to you? We’d love to hear your strategies for generating pitch ideas in the comment section below.