Journalism or Content Writing

by Steven Threndyle

Tag along with me as I scroll through various job feeds, searching for the next lucrative writing opportunity. If you’re a recent journalism graduate or a top-notch freelancer yearning for steadier work, JeffGaulin.com is still a go-to resource for sussing out the job market. And while there are more than the 50-plus jobs listed on Gaulin’s great site as of Canada Day, one’s career horizons can be expanded greatly by considering “content writing” jobs.

Journalism or Content Writing

Journalism or content writing

Broadcast journalists/anchors and newspaper reporters follow a relatively straightforward career path—usually from journalism school through to small-town starter jobs and then on to fame in major cities (if not the national level), the content creator—like the freelance writer—flies by the seat of their pants.

But what, really, do we mean by “content”?

It was Bill Gates who foretold the future when he wrote his famous Content Is King essay on the Microsoft website way back in 1996. For Gates, “content” was all-encompassing, describing every scrap of information that “consumers” (as opposed to mere readers) might digest at any given time.

Gates’ remarkably prescient essay (remember: this is 1996, pre social media and even pre-broadband Internet access) noted that: “For the Internet to thrive, content providers must be paid for their work. The long-term prospects are good, but I expect a lot of disappointment in the short-term as content companies struggle to make money through advertising or subscriptions. It isn’t working yet, and it may not for some time.”

While there over a dozen journalism schools in Canada, content writing is usually just one component in a digital marketing program often taught by privately owned (and expensive) institutions such as BrainStation. You can familiarize yourself by taking LinkedIn courses and watching YouTube videos, which are likely as valuable to list on your resume as “life experience.”

In short, a journalism grad will spend in the neighbourhood of $50,000 to obtain a degree (then fight tooth and nail to get a foot in the door), content writers can watch a few videos, throw up a five-minute website on Weebly or Wix and be off to the races.

Most business websites exist for a single reason, and that’s to solve a problem that’s prompted by a Google search. A high percentage of content writing jobs require at least a cursory knowledge of Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Search Engine Page Ranking (SERP) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM). Again, there are plenty of online webinars showing writers how to use various digital marketing tools, but at some point, an employer will have to take a chance on you.

In the same way that journalists should understand how the media business works, content writers must know who’s paying their salary. CBC/Radio Canada, Rogers, Bellmedia and Postmedia are household names; ShoutVox, Black and White Zebra, Trulioo and Thinkific (which just slashed its workforce) are not. Unless you’re a tech writer, chances are you won’t know much about a company like System1, “a leading online customer acquisition marketing company that operates the largest Responsive Acquisition Marketing Platform (RAMP) allowing leading digital publishers and networks a single platform to monetize customers in an increasingly complex ecosystem.”

Content writing requires curiosity, creativity, attention to detail and working against hard deadlines, just like a fast-paced newsroom.

The problem is, you’ll probably be doing it in the corner of your basement dedicated to the “home office.” Depending upon how you felt about “WFH” during the pandemic, chances are you’ll go an entire career—especially since many content writing jobs are contracts—without ever meeting your co-workers or boss face-to-face.

Journalism grads know that they often have have to slug it out in the trenches at small-town newspapers and radio stations across Canada for atrociously low salaries. Content writing provides perhaps more of an illusion of control—since much of the work is contract-based, writers can quickly move on from a bad gig without worrying too much about burning a bridge.

Plum job postings offer staggering six-figure salaries and if you take your job search to Twitter, you’ll feel like a loser if you’re not pulling down $10K per month in billings. Indeed (bad pun, I know), the vast majority of content writing jobs don’t provide compensation figures at all. Many entry-level writing jobs pay abysmally—under five cents a word—with no guarantee of work. There’s a certain segment of the content writing biz that looks and sounds a lot like the gig economy; something you might bang away at in the wee hours for 50 bucks.

Posted on June 30, 2022 at 9:01 pm by editor · LEAVE A COMMENT

Taking time off when you’re a freelancer

by Robyn Roste

As a freelancer, taking time off from work can be a scary thought.

What if an inquiry comes in while you’re away and you miss out on a great opportunity?

What if there’s a client emergency and you let them down?

And what if you go on vacation and then have no work to come back to because you stopped prospecting?

These fears are all possible scenarios so they’re important to think through. However, rest is necessary to fuel creativity and avoid burnout. So how does a freelancer take breaks without losing money, clients or opportunities? Here are a few ideas.

Calculate vacation time into your rate.

When you’re a traditional employee you receive either vacation time or vacation pay so you can take time off to rest and recuperate without the burden of financial loss. As a self-employed freelancer, you can plan for this as well.

Calculating for vacation time could be simple or complex but it all begins with the end in mind. Set your annual goal wage, add in your business and life expenses (including taxes) and add an amount for vacation.
Read the rest of this post »

Posted on June 17, 2022 at 8:30 pm by editor · LEAVE A COMMENT · Tagged with: 

The Born Freelancer Talks with Mary Ito About Podcasting

This series of posts by the Born Freelancer shares personal experiences and thoughts on issues relevant to freelancers. Have something to add to the conversation? We’d love to hear from you in the comments.

the born freelancer

Mary Ito, the popular Toronto-based veteran broadcast journalist, has had a successful career in both radio and television at a number of stations, most recently as a regular host on CBC Radio. In fact, if you owned a TV or radio anywhere in Southern Ontario (and sometimes even farther) over the last few decades it would have been hard to miss her cheerful voice and wicked sense of humour. Ito’s strength, however, has always been her unique ability to effortlessly shift from medium to medium, and from topic to topic—from the lighthearted to the much more serious and profound. Her natural sense of curiosity, combined with well-honed journo skills, have served her well throughout a career both extremely varied and highly demanding.

Her latest bold venture has been to return to freelancing in order to take on a number of projects including an exciting new challenge: podcasting. Never one to do anything by half-measures, it will surprise no one familiar with her work to learn Ito has launched not one but two original podcasts this year.

The Born Freelancer talks with Mary Ito about podcasting

THE BORN FREELANCER: Mary Ito, welcome! You’re a freelancer again after being under contract for so long at so many places. How does it feel?

MARY ITO: Very freeing! I always wished there were more hours in a day to do all the things I wanted to do when I was working full time. But when you’re doing a news or magazine-style show as I’ve done in the past, there’s so much to stay on top of. A lot of reading, research and prep work that you have to do on a daily basis. And making time for family and friends too—that’s always been a priority. There wasn’t a lot of time for other stuff like continuing education, special projects and of course having more fun!

TBF: Which leads us to your two new podcasts. Let’s start with the CRAM Podcast.

MARY ITO: CRAM is an acronym for “Communicating Research And More.” Our intent is to let the public know about innovative, exciting research and big ideas that are being generated in our universities and other institutions—knowledge that can impact lives. I interview researchers and big thinkers across Canada. Topics have ranged from “Love in the Time of Covid,” “Why We Make the Decisions We do,” “Rethinking Pain,” and “Lessons on War and Sex.”

TBF: And your second podcast, Passage to Wonderland?

MARY ITO: PTW is a literary podcast in which I read excerpts from books old and new. We’ve showcased passages from the Giller Prize-winning novel “Fifteen Dogs,” the bestseller “The Woman Before Wallis,” and the new book “Step,” a collection of short stories by award-winning writer Deborah Ellis. All the excerpts have some kind of insight, discovery or conclusion to help provide someone with a sense of completion at the end of a busy day.

Mary Ito

TBF: I recognize the name CRAM. That was the research festival you organized in Toronto back in 2019. So let’s focus on it and how the podcast evolved from it.

MARY ITO: I created CRAM because I realized that most research done in universities never reaches the public but has the potential to impact lives in all kinds of ways. So I partnered with all four of Toronto’s universities: The University of Toronto, York University, OCAD University and Toronto Metropolitan University (then Ryerson) to share their most innovative and exciting research with the public. We held over 30 free events on one night, which included interactive talks, art and video installations, demos, dance and music performances, etc. It was fantastic! Then the pandemic happened and we decided to launch the CRAM podcast at the end of January as we felt it was important to keep sharing new research and ideas with the public.

TBF: You make it sound so obvious and easy! But I bet it wasn’t.

MARY ITO: I knew nothing about podcasting when I started. I just thought it was important to keep CRAM going in some form. I’d also left regular employment at CBC to devote more time to projects I wanted to pursue like CRAM and Passage to Wonderland. I started doing some research, spoke to people who were doing podcasts and/or producing them, and thought, it’s now or never. The hardest thing for me was actually committing myself to doing it. And the hardest thing now is not the actual content or production of the podcast but the marketing of it and spreading the word.

TBF: Which is the number one challenge for many freelancers when launching their own brand. So how did you get it off the ground?

MARY ITO: It actually came together in an accidental way. I was mulling over the podcasting idea and hadn’t really taken any definite steps at that point. And then I happened to be talking with a friend of mine, Sarah Michaelis, a former television producer I’d worked with, and mentioned my podcast idea to her. She had left media but missed journalism and offered to work with me as my producer (knowing that I had zero dollars to pay her at the time!). She’d had her own production company for awhile producing videos but never a podcast. But I didn’t doubt that she could do it because she’s very talented, smart and adaptable. It was a gift to be able to work with her again!

TBF: What is her role as your producer?

MARY ITO: Sarah advised me on setting up a home studio in my basement and what equipment I’d need. She does all the recordings of interviews, editing and packaging of podcasts. She vets my scripts and we discuss potential guests and topics along with my wonderful researcher Natasha Chawdhry. I’m lucky to have such a great team!

TBF: So assembling a talented team seems like more than half your battle won. But what about your role as host? What new challenges did podcasting throw at you?

MARY ITO: This has been real “on the job” training for me. I’ve been so used to working in a traditional radio format hosting shows with a lot of moving parts and doing short interviews. I’ve had to get used to long format interviews of 30-45 minutes (which I really love) and bringing more of myself into the conversation, which I’m not used to doing.

TBF: Many freelancers are still trying to figure out how to monetize their podcasting efforts. Is that an issue for you too?

MARY ITO: The purpose of the CRAM podcast is not to make money—it’s to share innovative research and ideas that impact people’s lives. But it does take money to run it and I couldn’t pay anyone at the start. It was truly a passion project for all of us. But I was fortunate to received funds from two anonymous donors and the Temerty Foundation. Now I’m able to cover expenses and pay Sarah and Natasha. I’d like to keep it as a volunteer project for me—a way to give back to the public and the amazing researchers (who really are unsung heroes) in Canada.

TBF: “Podcasting is the future of radio.” I’ve heard that often said lately. What are your thoughts?

MARY ITO: I’m not a radio or media guru so don’t know the answer to that. I’m biased since I grew up with traditional radio and worked most of my life in it. I think there’s something magical about a bunch of people all listening to the same thing at the same time. The same magic you get when you go to the theatre and you all watch a movie together. But I wonder if listening to radio is becoming more circumstantial rather than intentional—especially given the pandemic and the shift in the way we work. Podcasts fit into the way we live our lives now. On demand, whenever, wherever. I think people, especially younger generations, want those options and podcasts that offer a broad range of content that mainstream radio can’t.

TBF: Finally, Mary Ito, any advice to other freelancers who want to create their own podcast?

MARY ITO: Actually does anyone have any advice to give ME? I’m still so new at this I don’t really feel qualified to give advice. But from the POV of a newbie podcaster, I would say try and create a podcast that has something different to offer from what’s out there—and there’s a crazy amount that’s out there! Just try and stick with it and be consistent with your content. That’s the advice I was given.


Our thanks to Mary Ito for sharing her insights and experiences behind the creation of her two new podcasts. You can find them online here:

Posted on June 2, 2022 at 5:32 am by editor · LEAVE A COMMENT · Tagged with: ,

Webinar: The Anti-Hustle Method for Freelancing Freedom

As a freelancer, being a “one-person business” can feel stressful and exhausting—but it doesn’t need to be! If you’ve ever struggled with managing your time effectively and staying on top of your never-ending task list, this workshop will help you become the productive boss of your own life and business.

By the end of the workshop, you will:

  • Learn how to stop the cycle of toxic productivity and the trap of unnecessary “busy” work
  • Identify the productivity mistakes you’re currently making—and how to resolve them with confidence
  • Create a productivity action plan that promotes work-life balance, reduces overwhelm, and frees up five to 10 hours per week

This webinar is part of the Canadian Freelance Guild’s Business of Freelancing series.

Our Presenter

Sagan MorrowSagan Morrow

Sagan Morrow is an anti-hustle productivity strategist and internationally board-certified success coach.

She helps solopreneurs and multi-passionate creatives save 10+ hours every single week, maximize productivity based on their personality, and take strategic action to finally achieve their goals—without burning out or succumbing to overwhelm. Learn more about Sagan at saganmorrow.com.

The Anti-Hustle Method for Freelancing Freedom

  • Online: Thursday, June 9th, 2022
  • 7pm to 8pm Eastern Time
  • $5 for members
  • $15 for non-members

You can register for this webinar right here.

Learn more about the cost and benefits of membership in the CFG on this webpage.

The link to the Zoom webinar will be sent to you via email about half an hour before the start time.

Please check your spam or junk folders if you can’t find the email, and contact organizer@canadianfreelanceguild.ca if you haven’t received the link 10 minutes before the scheduled start time. This webinar will be recorded and posted to the CFG Video-On-Demand site. Once posted, all paid registrants will receive a link and instructions on how to view.

Posted on May 24, 2022 at 12:54 pm by editor · LEAVE A COMMENT

Why I killed my newsroom career

This essay is written by journalist Megan DeLaire about why she gave up the good job she had been trained for and went freelance. Can you relate?

Why I killed my newsroom career
There goes my career.

My desk is in a corner of my apartment where a window and a white radiator meet. I have worked there for the last two years. I stop four or five times each day to sit in a green armchair by a different window. I live on the third floor, and there is so much to see on the street below. I like to watch. It’s raining today and there are buds on the trees. My superintendent is waving a broom at a man who peed on the red brick apartment building next door.

I am a journalist. I have not been happy for a long time. I hold a university degree and a college diploma. I have done what other people told me to do for most of my life. They promised if I did these things, I would be happy. From the time of my earliest memories, my plan has been to go to university, start my career and get a “good job.” I never had another plan.

A “good job” is usually in an office. It comes with a steady schedule, a salary and dental benefits. You need a university degree to get in. I haven’t been happy since I landed my first “good job.”

I’ve decided to kill my career.

I need to make everything I’ve done unhappily into something I’m happy doing. I need to look beyond the blueprint I was given.

The long road to a good job began when I was three. My dad liked to pick me up and make me promise to become a veterinarian and buy him a Corvette. I couldn’t say the word “veterinarian,” but I could nod my head and say “I promise.” My parents were high school dropouts. They were working in a factory that made car panels when they had me. My dad tried to earn his General Education Development certificate when I was little, but lost interest. Quickly.

Later, my parents split up and my mom went to college. My parents wanted me to have more than they had. They wanted me to earn scholarships and go to university. In 1992, while they were painting and inspecting rocker panels, 169,000 students graduated from universities in Canada. By 2007, that number would grow by 43 per cent.

I was so young the first time I heard about university, I couldn’t picture it. I imagined a university was like a train station with a booth that sold degrees instead of train tickets. I would walk up to one of those booths some day and buy my ticket. Easy.

When I was in Grade 8, a teacher told me I had to decide if I wanted to take university– or college–track high school courses. “Only the bad kids take the college courses,” she said.

I didn’t know what I wanted, but I knew what my parents wanted. I also knew I didn’t want to be a bad kid. Being poor was bad enough.

In Grade 10, my career studies teacher said it was time to choose a career. I needed to choose so I could plan the next two years of high school credits. If I didn’t graduate with the right credits, I wouldn’t get into the right university program. Then I couldn’t have a good job and a career.

In 2009, the Ontario Student Trustees Association surveyed 7,000 high school students about the compulsory Grade 10 civics and careers courses. The survey found 74 per cent of students thought the courses were a waste of time. Some complained the careers course didn’t offer enough real-world experience learning about different types of jobs. Instead, students were steered toward careers based on their grades and the results of aptitude tests. I struggled with math and science. I decided to become a journalist.

I won an entry scholarship from the University of Ottawa. I graduated from the school’s journalism program with honours. I earned an internship with a daily newspaper. Most of the people in my class wanted that internship. I started my first full-time job covering community news in Ottawa in 2015. The job came with benefits and paid vacation time, but the office had no windows. There weren’t enough of us and there was never enough money. People from the advertising sales department would come to our desks and ask us to write content that would make their clients happy. I mostly reported on fundraisers, annual festivals and the schools, hospitals and businesses in the Ottawa suburb that was my territory. The reporters on my team were discouraged from trying anything new; from “reinventing the wheel.” The phrase, “Something’s better than nothing,” became an unofficial motto. I didn’t like it. I promised myself I would try it for two years.

I quit a few weeks after my second anniversary. I moved to Toronto and worked in two more newsrooms between 2017 and 2021. For the last two years of my newsroom career, I worked for the same company I’d left in Ottawa. I was assigned in 2020 to a two-person team dedicated to provincial COVID-19 coverage. I was miserable. Cynical. Burnt out. I wanted to leave. I was also scared of the shame I would feel disappointing everyone who’d wanted me to succeed.

At 30, I began to think about what I wanted.

I wanted to work for many clients, not one. I wanted to pursue my own interests. I wanted to work for my pay one project at a time. An hourly wage doesn’t move me. I still wanted to tell stories. It was the “good job” I didn’t want—the career working full-time for a big company with offices and salaries.

Many of the people I met in university have abandoned the plans they left high school with. Some tried to make their first career work for years before starting over. Some graduated with degrees in one field and went to work in another. Most of us felt pressure to make a major decision when we were too young to know what we wanted.

I still want to be a journalist. I quit my last full-time job in October and started freelancing. I sell single malt scotch whisky at a Scottish public house on weekends for extra cash. I have enough energy to develop interests I didn’t study in university. I’ve started a podcast about outdoor adventure sports.

I don’t have an office job. I don’t have a salary. I don’t have the career I planned for. I’m fine with that. I am happier. I have control.

Megan DeLaire is a freelance journalist based in Toronto. In another life, she worked in newsrooms in Toronto and Ottawa. She’s interested in stories about climate change, environmental and social justice and adventure. She runs on podcasts, cheese and coffee.

Posted on May 18, 2022 at 3:15 pm by editor · LEAVE A COMMENT · Tagged with: 

Webinar: How to Win Government of Canada Contracts

The Government of Canada spends about $20 billion a year on goods and services. Even sole proprietors can sell directly to the feds—no matter where they are in Canada or whether or not they offer bilingual services. This webinar guides you through the basics, like making sure your firm is registered on the mandatory ProServices buying tool, getting security clearance and more. You’ll also learn about CanadaBuys, a new site that will eventually allow all levels of government in Canada to buy from federal lists of suppliers.

This webinar is part of the Canadian Freelance Guild’s Business of Freelancing series.

Our Presenter

Marion SoublièreMarion Soublière

Marion Soublière of M.E.S. Editing and Writing Services in Ottawa has been winning Government of Canada contracts since 2008.

In 2010, she published the book Getting Work with the Federal Government: A Guide to Figuring Out the Procurement Puzzle.

More recently she has blogged about procurement developments at The Editors’ Weekly.

How to Win Government of Canada Contracts

  • Online: Thursday, May 19th, 2022
  • 7pm to 8pm Eastern Time
  • $5 for members
  • $15 for non-members

You can register for this webinar right here.

Learn more about the cost and benefits of membership in the CFG on this webpage.

The link to the Zoom webinar will be sent to you via email about half an hour before the start time. Please check your spam or junk folders if you can’t find the email, and contact organizer@canadianfreelanceguild.ca if you haven’t received the link 10 minutes before the scheduled start time. This webinar will be recorded and posted to the CFG Video-On-Demand site. Once posted, all paid registrants will receive a link and instructions on how to view.

Posted on May 6, 2022 at 5:00 am by editor · LEAVE A COMMENT

Webinar: Public Speaking Skills: A Freelancer’s Marketing Tool

Studies have found that people fear speaking in public more than death. In addition to sharing fundamentals of public speaking, our Toastmasters International presenter will steer you away from trepidation and towards dynamic speechmaking. Different forms of public presentations will be discussed, including in-person and virtual and there will also be tips on how to monetize your public speaking engagements.

This webinar is part of the Canadian Freelance Guild’s Business of Freelancing series.

Our Presenter

Lisa Caroglanian DorazioCFG Founding Member Lisa Caroglanian Dorazio

A seasoned Toastmasters International member and award-winning speaker, Lisa’s speeches range from addressing association AGMs to the mastermind mentoring group she founded.

Lisa’s tips create a difference in your personal and business development. Lisa believes that “practice makes perfect” and strives always to reach that goal.

Public Speaking Skills: A Freelancer’s Marketing Tool

  • Online: Thursday, May 5th, 2022
  • 7pm to 8pm Eastern Time
  • $5 for members
  • $15 for non-members

You can register for this webinar right here.

Learn more about the cost and benefits of membership in the CFG on this webpage.

The link to the Zoom webinar will be sent to you via email about half an hour before the start time.

Please check your spam or junk folders if you can’t find the email, and contact organizer@canadianfreelanceguild.ca if you haven’t received the link 10 minutes before the scheduled start time. This webinar will be recorded and posted to the CFG Video-On-Demand site. Once posted, all paid registrants will receive a link and instructions on how to view.

Posted on April 28, 2022 at 5:00 am by editor · LEAVE A COMMENT

The Born Freelancer Reveals: Secrets of Where I Like to Work

This series of posts by the Born Freelancer shares personal experiences and thoughts on issues relevant to freelancers. Have something to add to the conversation? We’d love to hear from you in the comments.

the born freelancer
Working freelancers learn to create under the most challenging circumstances.

Loud noise. Flashing lights. Distractions of every kind.

But each of us probably has a favourite kind of space in which to write, the idealized type of location in which to pour out our hearts and minds onto our keyboards with optimal success.

For me, the craft of writing has three distinct phases: Prep, Writing and Editing. Each requires its own separate and ideal circumstances for my maximum prolificness.

Phase 1—Prep

This is the acquisition of ideas (and, if required, the further researching of them). I’m often asked, “Where do your ideas come from?” The answer is banal but compelling: They come from all around me. I genuinely believe the best ideas are gifts from the universe. They have somehow been bequeathed to me for reasons beyond my comprehension. I remain nevertheless grateful for their arrival and respectful of their lineage.

I carry a number of notebooks wherever I go. They’re crammed full of ideas and scraps of ideas. They are the raw material I will later ponder and harvest. I used to carry a small digital recorder but found I ended up with a lot of unlistened-to audio requiring a patience I do not possess to process.

I know writers who find their most useful inspiration in the most overwhelming circumstances such as noisy bars, night clubs and social events. When facing a looming deadline I prefer solitary walks. They allow my brain to process whatever it has noticed in the busy world subconsciously and bring it to my attention consciously in the pursuit of a solution to whatever challenge I am facing creatively.

Phase 2—Finding the Words

This is the brutal act of sitting down and subjecting often abstract ideas to the ultimate test of making them real on a screen or page. I say “brutal” because it requires discipline and sheer force of will. Some sentences will flow freely, almost of their own accord. Others require enormous perseverance and internal strength, the proverbial rolling of a dead elephant up a steep hill. Some ideas will stand up to much critical scrutiny, others may fall injured to the side, never to be resurrected.

This inner struggle can be mitigated by conducive surroundings.

Music or no music? Some writers require complete silence, finding aural distractions to be an impediment to their creativity. Me, I crave music at this phase. Preferably upbeat jazz or light classics, whose rhythm and beat I can use as a tidal wave under my word processing mother-board, keeping me afloat during lulls and raising me up at times of particular inspiration. Music with lyrics, however, can be too distracting, as I am often drawn into the songwriter’s matrix and away from my own thoughts.

Where do I write? I have written while sitting on the end of a bed in small studio apartments, on kitchen table tops, in cubicles at the library, in dingy disused offices and on park benches during beautifully sunny summer days, to name just a few locations.

For a good long while I was certain my favourite space in which to write was a dedicated home office of my own.

  • Book shelves up to the ceiling
  • A good music system
  • Good lighting
  • A comfortable office chair
  • A huge desk with lots of drawers
  • And the necessary isolation required to devote oneself to one’s work without hinderance or interruption

It was magical.

Such a dedicated work-only space also provides a considerable practical advantage at tax time. The square footage of any dedicated business-use space in a home can be used in calculations to help defray taxes. Consult the CRA website or local tax office for further details.

I no longer have that dedicated home office. I continue to work without it.

Phase 3—Editing

Some great artist once said the secret of sculpture was to chip away everything that wasn’t your subject. Good editing is like that too. You have to take your beloved words, and ruthlessly cut away all but the absolutely necessary. It can be traumatic for some writers. Others are more cold-blooded about it. I’m somewhere in between.

I find time is the key. If I can take a night to “sleep on it” then early the next morning I can edit much more aggressively and productively. If I can’t take a night off then a quick walk around the block is a helpful way to disengage momentarily and allow my subconscious to determine what needs to be done.

Curiously, when editing, my preference is for somewhere relatively quiet. While writing, music helps the words crest and flow. While editing, I am frequently speaking the sentences aloud over and over and any external sounds interfere with my attempts to find their proper rhythm.

The Takeaway

The ideal working space is as variable a concept as there are writers. My heaven is your hell and vice versa. Nor is it absolutely necessary to always work in your ideal space. After all, a little irritation allows the oyster to create pearls. But as time goes on, you may find yourself drawn to one kind of creating space or another, without necessarily knowing why.

I’m not sure we have much control over such predilections. I never thought about a dedicated home office until I had one and then I revelled in it. Why did it seem to matter so much to me at the time?

Only recently have I realized it had been imprinted upon me as a child. As a kid my family and I would visit friends. The father of one family we visited was a freelance writer. I recall being deeply impressed that he had a dedicated home office. None of the other parents had one. Down a long corridor from the family living room, out of earshot of all domestic noise, his home office seemed to me then a kind of magical space. It had walls of books, a big multi-drawered desk, subdued overhead lighting, a quiet burbling music system…long buried in my childhood subconscious its echo would emerge later during my most productive adult years as a tangible symbol of my freelancing success and of having finally become—in my mind at least—a “real” writer.

It served its purpose.

So having once thrived in—and then carried on without—what I thought was my all time idealized work place, I am now at last in a position to conclusively share with you the ultimate location of my favourite, most ideal and productive working space:

It’s wherever I am while writing my latest project, buoyantly lost amidst the act of creation.

And, no surprise, it always was.


Do you have a favourite kind of working space or surroundings that enhance your creativity? Please share them with us using the comments feature below.


If you are a Canadian Freelance Guild Member, you are welcome to propose an idea for a professional development webinar for your colleagues. Login to the CFG homepage and go the Webinars page. At the top of the page you’ll find a “Suggest A Webinar” button. Click on it to fill out a form with your idea(s). Members who end up presenting a webinar can receive an honorarium or an extension to their membership for a full year.

Posted on April 25, 2022 at 12:24 pm by editor · One Comment · Tagged with: ,

2022 Dave Greber Freelance Writers Awards open for submissions

Freelancers who write about social justice issues, the 2022 Dave Greber Freelance Writers Awards is now open for submissions.

The Greber Awards offer two separate prizes:

  • Book ($5,000)
  • Magazine ($2,000)

The competition closes on Friday, June 24,2022 at 5:00 p.m. PST.

Dave Greber Freelance Writers Book and Magazine Awards for Social Justice Writing

About the Dave Greber Freelance Writers Book and Magazine Awards for Social Justice Writing

These awards honour the memory of Dave Greber, a Calgary-based freelancer who wrote extensively about social justice issues during the final decade of his career. The awards were created in 2004, and are given each year to freelance writers of social justice-related non-fiction.

Work that has not yet been completed for publication is also eligible for submission. To submit your work, you must be a resident of Canada and spend 70% of your working time as a self-employed freelance writer.

For more details about the award requirements, see the Dave Greber Awards website.

You can read Story Board’s interviews with some past Dave Greber Award winners right here.

Posted on April 11, 2022 at 9:42 am by editor · LEAVE A COMMENT · Tagged with: ,

Webinar: The Seven Stories and How to Apply Them to Your Freelance Writing

According to journalist and bestselling author Christopher Booker, every story we tell falls into one of seven basic plots. This webinar will outline each of these archetypal plot lines and explain when to use them. It will also cover why we tell stories based on the cultural and psychological discoveries of Carl Jung and Joseph Campbell.

The presentation will conclude by providing tips and techniques on how to apply the Seven Stories principle to various genres of fiction and non-fiction writing.

Our Presenter

David RintoulDavid Rintoul

David Morton Rintoul is a freelance writer and was a management consultant serving organizations throughout North America for over 20 years.

Most of his current freelance work involves marketing content for business-to-business clients. His clients often ask him to create success stories to promote their brand. This has fuelled his lifelong fascination with storytelling.

David is a founding member of the CFG and the Community Leader for Guelph-Kitchener-Waterloo. He’s also a member of the newly-formed CFG Experts Panel.

The Seven Stories and How to Apply Them to Your Freelance Writing

  • Online: Thursday, April 7th, 2022
  • 7pm to 8pm Eastern Time
  • $5 for members
  • $15 for non-members

This session is structured with lots of room for questions, and your chances of getting them answered are increased if you send them to our CFG Organizer in advance.

You can register for this webinar right here.

Learn more about the cost and benefits of membership in the CFG on this webpage.

The link to the Zoom webinar will be sent to you via email about half an hour before the start time.

Please check your spam or junk folders if you can’t find the email, and contact organizer@canadianfreelanceguild.ca if you haven’t received the link 10 minutes before the scheduled start time.

Posted on March 31, 2022 at 5:51 am by editor · LEAVE A COMMENT