Every quality writer has their own unique style. If they’ve been around for some time, they’ve also built their own “nest” of things they keep readily available when performing writing tasks. Some of these things are quite obvious, while others may not be. However, when asking many experienced writers what they keep handy, I’ve found that there are eight things that almost all of them have when writing.
Whether part of your daily routine is looking for new work or not, a cover letter for freelance writer is a must have. When submitting projects to customers for review, a professional writer will write a cover letter and attach it to the beginning of the e-mail.
Customer-Specific Style Guides
Every customer has certain requirements that we must meet when we write for them. Whether it’s not using first person or point of view in our work because it sounds too informal, or not using third person because it sounds too formal, if we want our work accepted and paid for, we have to abide by what the customer asks for. Review their style guide and abide by it and you’ll have a better chance of being given more work.
“Generic” Style Guides
Many of the older writers I’ve spoken with call the AP Style Book and the Chicago Writer’s Guide “generic style guides” because most customers at least want titling and subheadings to be written using these styles. They’re also priceless when wondering about punctuation, capitalization and other common faux pas of writers.
Webster’s or Oxford’s, it doesn’t matter who published the dictionary, as long as it’s an accepted source and not Uncle Jim. Using the same word throughout a piece, especially a long piece, can cause you to lose the interest of the reader, especially if you’re writing something requiring repetition. A dictionary can help you say the same thing many different ways.
A thesaurus can also help you keep from sounding redundant in pieces where you’ve got to say the same thing over and over.
Copies of Previous Versions
This is important when writing something that you know will have markups from the editor. It looks really bad if you submit a piece for the third or fourth time with the same verbiage as your first draft.
Customer-Supplied Research Material
When your client provides research material, they do so because they want to see such information in your writing. If you decide to ignore the material they give you, you may be asked to discard what you’ve written and completely rewrite it using what they gave you. They gave it to you for a reason.
This may be obvious because you’ve got to have a way to submit what you’ve written, right? Well, yes, but you also need the internet to help with research or finding imagery to make your copy more readable. Never rely solely on what the customer gives you unless you’re specifically requested to do so.
Mike A is a freelance writer available on WriterAccess, a marketplace where clients and expert writers connect for assignments.