Friday Fun is a group post from the writers of the NHWN blog. Each week, we’ll pose and answer a different, get-to-know-us question. We hope you’ll join in by providing your answer in the comments.
QUESTION: What’s your sweet spot? Are you at your best with a 500 word essay? Maybe your strongest work comes in at about 10,000 words, be it short story or in-depth article? Or is a book, fiction or nonfiction, your forte? Or at least your passion? Fiction or non-, news, opinion, comic or straight, long or short – the possibilities seem almost endless. Whatever your preference, do editors and publishers agree with you? Are you publishing your preferred topics at your preferred length or writing something else to pay the bills?
Lisa J. Jackson: My writing sweet spot is with destination articles and features. I wrote with a locally and New Hampshire focus for a few years, but have pulled out of some and lost another when it closed its doors last summer. Editors had minor, if any changes whenever I submitted, though, so that told me I was on target.
I have not taken the time yet this year to find new markets to submit to. Marketing and blog writing is paying me well and keeping me quite busy, so I’ve purposely focused on those outlets for now. I will get back to travel-related writing though, as it’s going to be a large part of my life soon!
Deborah Lee Luskin: I love the 500-word radio commentary and the 100,000-word novel. And they are surprisingly similar: I need to use only the right words – and leave out the rest.
Susan Nye: I love short, 500 to 650 words, essays and memoir. There is a wonderful challenge – what to put in and what to leave out or save for another story. Since they only take three or four minutes to read, there’s a pretty good chance I won’t lose my audience half way through. That said, I recently started writing short stories and it’s been a lot of fun. The greater length, so far 1,500 to 7,000 words, gives me tremendous freedom, more than enough to hang myself!
Most of my writing income comes from magazine work. I focus on food and a variety of lifestyle topics for regional magazines. My work requires recipe development, lots of interviews and some photography. Since writing is a solitary endeavor, interviewing and taking pictures gets me out and about and provides a nice break.
Jamie Wallace: At the moment, it’s definitely shorter form pieces. My blog posts tend to run between 600 and 1200 words while my creative essays for my local column max out at 700 words. Like Susan, I like the challenge of working within those constraints.
My “marcom” (marketing and communications) projects cover a wide range of assignments from 700-word case studies to 2500-word point-of-view papers to 10,000-word ebooks and more. I don’t really prefer any one format or length over another, I just know I need to get into the right mindset for each type of piece and do my prep work accordingly.
As for what types of material I like to work with, I haven’t been working on any fiction lately, but I love creative nonfiction, opinion essays, and the personal narratives that live in my private journals. On the marcom side, I really enjoy crafting the high-level brand messages and concepts that help tell the Big Story of a brand. I also really like to work on educational content that helps my clients’ customers learn about a particular topic.
Mostly, my sweet spot is the moment after a piece of work is done. I do a brief but enthusiastic happy dance and then dive into the next thing.