Getting an idea
Invariably, when I meet ‘ new’ people and they are made aware of whom I am (like that Bond woman from the CBNews who has been writing for some 25 years now) one of their first questions they ask is ‘where do you get your ideas?’
Well, all I can answer to that is that I had good training at the Writing School in England. To be a writer means research, research, research. What more can I say... well this, actually.
Research – that means careful searches and enquiries to discover facts in a chosen subject – is the stored energy in the freelance writer’s powerhouse of knowledge and ideas. Everything that happens to the writer, every person he or she meets, every conversation overheard or taken part in, every encounter, every word read, can be useful research for the freelance writer.
So, the person who wants to make it as a freelance writer and make money from writing must learn how to look outwards to others and to analyse any happening; personal experience is vital for fresh and vibrant copy.
From the first, a writer must be an investigator, a detective ferreting out material to amuse, guide and enlighten readers. I know this because my schoolbook said so!
If a writer falls down on research, if a writer fails to read all that should be read, if a writer does not know how to get the most out of an interview, then the writer is functioning below par and will never make the most of experience.
And, experience is the best research tool of all.
These days, I am a features writer only. I no longer run after the news; this is good seeing as my running legs are not as capable as they once were!
However, freelance writers who want to make money must keep up with developing society. They must keep up to date with legislation, with social movements, religious opinion, business trends and as many facets of life as time permits; and, so-called ‘ lack of time’ should never be an excuse not to research at all.
In this way, research is a continual provider of ideas. From among those ideas, the writer can pick and choose the ones he or she wants to work on, ones that seem the most timely; the most appropriate for a magazine; the most appropriate for a newspaper; and the most promising to be of interest to an editor.
Research comes basically in three different ways: Google is a great provider of facts and figures. However, here you can get yourself so wound up in facts and figures that writing a 600-word piece becomes impossible simply because you have too much information for the kind of piece you were thinking of offering your editor.
Of course, there is creative investigation. I remember here a time when I scaled the iron gates of the waste site in Jávea. I had heard that there were people living there from what they could forage from our rubbish.
This was a time when I had a partner that drove me there, gave me a leg up, and helped me leave oh-so-quickly after I had taken my photographs. He left me... I wonder why?
Then there was the time when I found out that the brother of Gordon Brown was planning to marry his sweetheart in Pedramala, a small village near to where I lived at that time.
I interviewed the bride, who was a news anchor for GMTV back in England; did a two-page special spread on the happy couple; and sent the photos and story to the Sunday newspaper in Scotland. At that time, sending a photograph and copy meant a trip to a news agency in Alicante.
And then there is the historical slant. The slant of this depends upon the angle the writer is to take, but the gathering of historical facts should mean ALL the facts. Once the facts have been gathered they should be analysed and conclusions drawn; but the latter should only take place impartially when all aspects have been sifted through.
So, you see: a writer has to be open to all ideas; to choose which ideas he or she wishes to follow and always be ready to do a bit of reporting if life offers you the chance... like I was having coffee in Teulada one day when, by chance, I met Lance Maklin, renowned for his involvement in the Le Mans disaster of 1955.
So, do not hesitate, get a pen and start now!