Radio Interview, Freelance Writer Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

In this radio interview with full-time freelance writer Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen (me!), you’ll get tips for aspiring writers, info about different types of articles, and the best and worst parts of a freelance writing career.

First, a quip from A. A. Milne:

“Almost anyone can become an author; the business is to collect money and fame from this state of being,” he said.

Ah, that’s the ticket…collecting money and fame from writing! To delve deeper into the writing and publishing business, click on the excellent Writing Life: Celebrated Canadian and International Authors on Writing and Life, edited by Constance Rooke.

Recently, I was a guest on an hour-long radio program called “Writers’ Voices with Monica and Caroline,” on KRUU FM 100.1 (The Voice of Fairfield, IA).  Here is what I said about my fulltime freelance writer’s life…

A Radio Interview With a Full-Time Freelance Writer

Writers’ Voices: Did you always want to be a writer? 

Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen: I wanted to be psychologist, teacher, writer, doctor, lawyer, vet, and a pastor. I never wanted to be a blogger or magazine writer, which is ironic – because I’m earning a full-time living as both!

What advice would you give aspiring writers? 

Actively read the genre you want to write in. This means noticing transitions, metaphors, active verbs, intros that hook, conclusions that leave you satisfied.

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Also, always have a book about writing on the go.

And, don’t give up after the first hundred rejections. Each “no” takes you one step further to “yes” – if you keep trying to get better.

What prior writing experience did you have?

Well, I wrote papers in university – I have degrees in Education and Psychology – and I took one nonfiction writing course.

Have you taken writing courses or attended workshops?  Were they helpful to you?

Yes, the one writing course for my Education degree….and I went to the Surrey International Writers’ Conference, which I loved. I learned that writing takes organization, discipline, perseverance, and determination.

My favorite session was when a bestselling writer said he can’t afford to get writer’s block. Writing is his job – he has kids and a wife to support – so he can’t afford to wait for the muse.

Have you been a member of a writers’ group?

No, though I’d love to. I tried to start one on the island I live on, but it wasn’t what I was looking for. I want to meet with full-time writers who are published and publishing constantly!

Do you keep a journal?

I used to, but now that I’m a writer, I don’t journal.

How has your writing style changed during your writing career?

I’m loosening up a little, letting my personality come through bit by bit. At the same time, I’m tightening my writing skills – using fewer words, citing sources properly, writing better introductions, concluding pieces more satisfactorily.

What are the qualities that you have that have made you successful as a writer?

I wrote a whole article on that for my Quips and Tips for Freelance Writers blog! I’m driven, ambitious, internally motivated, energetic, and focused.

What are some of the best things about writing as a career?  What’s the downside?
I love the creativity, isolation, and independence. Of course, those are also the downsides – sometimes it’s hard to be creative constantly, to keep coming up with fresh article ideas. But, that’s the job – and coming up with ideas is definitely a skill. It’s like a muscle: the more you exercise it, the stronger it gets.

And I love working alone – I’m a definite introvert, which means being around others drains me. But, I do get cabin fever – especially since I live on a little island off the coast of BC. I can’t wander around the streets of the city when I need a break – though I do run through the forest and up the mountain!

The downside is the fluctuating income, not leaving the house and wearing real people clothes, and standing all day (I don’t write sitting down – my body gets sore).

Is there anything that you have published that you wish you could take back or re-do?

Um…my first major article for Good Times magazine wasn’t particularly well-written or well-sourced. But it’s a great reminder of how much I’ve learned!

Do you have a particular writing routine?

I get up at 5 or 5:30 am. No alarm clock – I’m excited to check my blog stats, email, forums, etc immediately!  I write, research, pitch new ideas, etc until 10:30 am.  Run.  Lunch from 11:30-12:30, then back to work until 5 pm. Sometimes I run at 3:30 instead of 10:30, depending on lots of stuff. But I work at freelance writing about 7 hours a day, and work on my blogs for an hour or two daily. But it’s not like work – I love it, which is why I’m excited to get out of bed at 5:30 am!

When do you get your best ideas?

When I’m actively looking for them, and when I’m working on articles. Those are my most successful idea-generating activities. And, I’ve come up with ideas when I’m talking to my husband, running and listening to talk radio, and running errands – but those don’t seem to pan out. That is, I don’t sell them to magazines.

Do you write entirely on computer or do you do any by hand?

I write on my laptop, unless I’m traveling.

Do you ever experience writers’ block?

No – I once heard a bestselling writer said he can’t afford to get writer’s block. Writing is his job – he has kids and a wife to support – so he can’t afford to wait for the muse. That’s where I’m at with writing. I haven’t experienced a block, but I believe it exists.

Do you consider yourself primarily a writer or do you have another career also?

I’m a full-time freelance writer.

Do you have to do much research or do you already have all of the material from your prior experience?

Every new article requires research! I love writing round ups, which is basically a descriptive list of things. For example, I just finished “The Pros & Cons of 10 Diet Trends in America” for MSN Health, and I’m working on “The Secret Benefits of Breast Cancer” for Health magazine (which is less a round up, and more of an expository article).

Fellow scribes, if you have any questions about a freelance writing career, please feel free to comment below! I’ll even tell you how much I earn as a fulltime writer  🙂

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4 thoughts on “Radio Interview, Freelance Writer Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

  • Paige

    Hi, I want to be a freelance writer too, though I’m only 17. I was just wondering – what made you want to become a writer, despite all of your other choices?

  • Rebecca

    I just landed a few writing opportunities. I was ready to give up on my dream, but I did not. I know I am on the right path. It’s about finding your strengths and your passion. I love to travel and write travel, but I am interested in health and wellness, self-help, and a few other topics. I know I can use my writing to “catapult” me into other areas such as Life Coaching and teaching.

  • Hope

    Wow, you really came running out of the starting gate. I’ve been freelancing three years this February and only just started feeling like I could justify not working fast food somewhere!

  • Laurie PK

    Hope, kudos to you for reading all the way to the end of the article! 🙂 And for sharing your earnings — how brave and honest of you.

    In 2008, I’ll have earned just under $40,000 (I may exceed it if I get a $500 assignment in the next 2 weeks…come on editors, you can do it!!).

    I didn’t start freelancing full-time until April 2008; my goal was to earn $3,000 per month. My goal for 2009 is $4,000 per month….and if I can do it, fellow scribes, so can you!

    Anyone else willing to share their financial victories and woes?