Being a freelance writer at the end of the year

Not only am I a journalist but I’m also a freelance Instructional Designer which means that I can design and develop course materials for businesses.  At the end of each calendar year, there is always a little bit of money that has not been spent by some of the bigger companies and which needs to be spent by 11:59 p.m. on December 31st. Often this money is allocated to a training project, you know the kind of project that people want but that usually never bubbles up to the top of any list.

On your mark, get set...  Photo by royal_broil

On your mark, get set…
Photo by royal_broil

I live for these sorts of projects, they are always fast, furious, and intense.

And then they are over.

I’m on such a project now. I have to co-ordinate work, include comments and revisions, and have my work reviewed by 3 people who have all gone on vacation until the end of the year (not to worry, we fit in a 2-hour conference call this morning before they left and I have their cell phone numbers.)

I’ve been tasked with designing a storyboard for an e-learning course – something that is not that different from designing a storyboard for a novel or a screenplay. I have to break the course down into logical chunks and then walk my reviewer through that  sequence of events. I have to provide enough information (animation goes here, bulleted items rolls across the screen in time with the instructor’s voice, etc.) that when I’m done, I should be able to pass this course off to a Course Developer and she should be able to build the desired course, just as a builder builds a house from a set of blueprints.

Why am I talking about this in a writers’ blog?

Because not all writing is book and article writing.

Sometimes writers – very good writers – have a full, satisfying, and lucrative career doing different kinds of writing. It may not be as sexy as writing a book, but it sure brings home the bacon.

Which is why I counsel *any* college student who asks me what they should study in college – to study the subject that it is they love because that’s what you’re going to have to work at for the rest of your life and you’d better be happy getting up each day for your job. But, I also tell them, make sure that you also study English, because if you can write about what it is you do, if you can teach people about your field or how to do a specific task,

then you will always have work.

Cheers everyone. Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and best wishes for a happy and healthy New Year from our flock to yours.


Wendy E.N. Thomas is an award winning journalist, columnist, and blogger who believes that taking challenges in life will always lead to goodness. She is the mother of 6 funny and creative kids and it is her goal to teach them through stories and lessons.

Wendy’s current project involves writing about her family’s experiences with chickens (yes, chickens). ( She writes about her chickens for GRIT, Backyard Poultry, Chicken Community, and Mother Earth News.

8 thoughts on “Being a freelance writer at the end of the year

  1. Thank heavens for this post! I am an English Major –and I so often get barraged by the “what on earth will English do for you” question. Frankly I’m not sure where it will take me, but I do know I love writing and it has proven to be one of the most necessary skills to have. Writers will always be in demand –this keeps me sane. Thank you again for such a great post, good luck on your current project!

    • Yes indeed, I have a major in English and I cannot overstate the importance of being able to write well in the global lingua franca. It puts you one step ahead of your peers in written and even in oral communication.

  2. That’s an amazing post. Truly agree with what you’re saying. Be bale to write about what you do. I already made that a plan, I love writing but I want to find cures for cancer, I think it’s an oncologist) so I plan on writing about the discoveries I make.

  3. Good advice for college kids. Might help if those counselors in guidance had some real world experience to spotlight all the places writing/art/history/ can take you – The jobs are there – and pays the bills – giving you time for your own creating. Look at all the words/writing out there in the everyday world – grab a bit of that – it’s not all advertising. Training is huge right now.
    Great post.

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