I wasn’t expecting to learn about meth labs when I signed up for the Australian Writers’ Centre course ‘Magazine and Newspaper Writing Stage 1′ but it was just one of the interesting war stories shared by experienced freelance writers Claire Halliday and Valerie Khoo over the weekend. The dynamic duo told tales of broken micro cassettes, rude celebrities, and dodgy editors. They gave some great insights into the writing process as well as practical tips for making freelance writing a viable career.
The course was held at the Abbotsford Convent in the midst of cafe-goers, a wedding, a photography course, families celebrating mother’s day, and a large group of vespa riders (cue the photo). Half of Melbourne seemed to be gathered there enjoying the unseasonably warm weather.
Our group of around a dozen students got an insider’s guide on how to; come up with ideas for features, structure a feature article, analyse a publication, interview a subject, approach people for information, pitch to editors, and negotiate fair rates for your work.
We each interviewed a class mate, wrote a profile on them and got feedback on our writing. This was one of the highlights of the course. The exercise was a great opportunity to apply what we had learnt as well as getting to know each other better.
The course gave me increased confidence in my freelance writing. I feel motivated and now have practical strategies to ramp up my writing. I left the course with several ideas I could pitch to editors for feature articles. It gave me a much better sense of what makes a high quality and engaging feature article.
The take away message from the course for me was that success in feature writing depends on building good relationships with editors (and being a decent writer).
If you want to explore feature writing as a hobby or career, it is definitely worth checking out this course.