challenges and achievements

It has been a very difficult year for many of us who live the life of a professional writer. The tanking economy in several  of the world’s leading nations in addition to the expansion of “citizen journalism” and individuals willing to contribute for free to numerous sites and publications have greatly diminished the number of good paying markets for freelance writers. Sure, there are an increased number of “markets,” but so many of them want free content or writers to write merely for the privilege of gaining greater “exposure.”

I’ve got plenty of exposure thank you very much. What I, and many of my professional colleagues need are more magazines and websites that cherish the contribution of quality content written with flair, preciseness and value (whether that be by way of expertise for a certain topic or in relation to a writer’s built-in following or appeal.)

Being the last post of the year, I wanted to celebrate the life of a freelance writer and toast our achievements, in addition to acknowledging our challenges … so that we might overcome, conquer or find ways to work around them.

By far, my greatest achievement this year has been my success in building my author’s platform. I have worked tirelessly promoting my book on volunteerism, tweeting on Twitter, blogging, expanding my network through the development of my online chocolate paper, Chocolatour News and sharing my chocolate research with the world in preparation for my next book, Chocolatour: A Quest for the World’s Best Chocolate. What a journey it’s been!

In the same vein, my biggest challenge has been that my efforts never seem to be enough. I’ve been sold by several agents that they love my writing and the topic for my book, but that my platform still isn’t big enough! (One suggested that I would need my own TV show on the Food Network to attract the attention of a worthy publisher.) Not exactly an easy goal to achieve!

So I’ve been pondering my options, and come January, when the writing of my book begins in earnest, I will let destiny takes its course and put my faith in my ability to make the right decision regarding those options. Self-publishing has certainly come to the forefront, and judging by the multitude of you who contributed to the discussion we had on the subject in the guest post led by Yvonne Perry, it may be my choice for the first edition of Chocolatour. Stay tuned!

What about you? How has 2011 fared for you? What has been your biggest achievement? And your most formidable challenge? I’d love to hear from you, and I know that readers of this blog love sharing and supporting one another with our knowledge and insights. We’re all in this together!

At this point, I’d like to wish you happiness, health and prosperity, and hope that your achievements will far outweigh your challenges when we reflect back on 2012 in one year’s time.

This is the last post on the blog at this address. I will be migrating the content over to a self-hosted site.

Thanks so much for helping build the community we have created here since February, 2009 when the blog was launched. I hope the transition to the new site will be a smooth one, and that there are no technological bumps along the way. Ciao for now!

Doreen Pendgracs

Known throughout the Web as the "Wizard of Words", I've been a freelance writer since 1993. I'm currently researching and writing volume II of "Chocolatour: A Quest for the World's Best Chocolate". Volume I was published in September, 2013.

22 Responses

  1. wizardofwords says:

    Thanks, Lanre. I'm proud of you for all the progress you've made with your writing in just one year!

    As of April, I will have been a self-employed, freelance writer for 19 years! Certainly been a lot of changes, and a lot of peaks and valleys along the way.

    Here's to an amazing 2012 for both of us!

  2. Lanre says:

    Hi Doreen, it's good to know that you're making progress. As at the 1st of January, 2011, I wasn't a writer and didn't think I'd be one. Starting my blog and my career in freelance writing was something I didn't plan for but it's been my greatest achievement so far.

    It's good to set goals and still have an open mind for any new ideas. I wish you all the success in your book and all the good things of life in 2012. As for the new site, I'll definitely be there.

  3. wizardofwords says:

    You are so right! Every bit of experience we gain through our writing helps us be better at our craft and prepare for bigger and better projects.

    We all have to make choices with regard to what path we will follow, who we will work for and under what terms. Sometimes it all works well, and one step leads to the other. Sometimes, we have to regroup and take a step back in order to find the way forward. Congrats to you for pursuing your writing career in a fashion that is working for you.

  4. albury hotel says:

    I've been a content writer for almost four years already. I still say that we have the edge over the writers who are posting articles in different sites for free because… I myself have been through lots of writing training and learned different writing techniques that one can only get with experience.

  5. wizardofwords says:

    I'm glad you found the blog, Coretta!

    we have a terrific community of writers and life-minded people here. A community of sharing and caring. I do hope you'll subscribe to the feed at the new site. there will be a post there next week. Don't yet know on what subject!

    All the best to you in your writing career. The biggest advice I can give you is to network with other writers. We all learn from one another.

  6. Coretta says:

    One of my great accomplishments of 2011 was to begin writing. In August, I reluctantly started writing a book and in December I started my blog.

    I'm glad to have the chance to find and to read your blog. This information in this entry alone has been helpful. Looks like I need to make sure that my "platform" is solid. This is the second time this evening that I've heard the word mentioned.

    My ears are open. I'm learning. Thanks for the information and the support.

  7. wizardofwords says:

    Thanks for dropping in, Adrienne. And thanks for your words of encouragement and good wishes!

    Best of luck to you as well. Let's keep in touch!

  8. Adrienne Smith says:

    Hi Doreen,

    Well it looks like I'm just now getting in on the last post on this blog. I'll look forward to seeing what you'll be sharing at your new place.

    Sounds like you've had a lot going this past year but I have no doubt you'll do really well in 2012.

    Wow, pretty impressive with writing your next book. I have no doubt everything will fall into place like it should. Things seem to work out that way a lot of times. I'll keep my fingers crossed for you.

    Best of luck with 2012 and I'll see you over at the new place soon.


  9. wizardofwords says:

    Thanks for your comment, Jeanette. Always great to hear from you.

    I know what you mean about he word "freelance" having negative connotations. I'm sure it does with some people. But for me … freelance means FREEDOM, and for that reason, I like the word!

    Regarding the publishing of books, my frustration lies with the fact that I am not a "new author." I've co-authored 2 books (one of which was a Canadian Bestseller) and authored one solo project – all of which were published thru traditional publishing houses and one of which was distributed internationally by a large publisher. But it seems that past experience doesn't count for much unless you're writing in the same genre or you attracted considerable media attention. A publishing history only counts for something if sales numbers were very significant.

    Thanks for the good wishes. I extend the same to you.

  10. Jeannette Paladino says:

    Doreen — It's sad when you find that writers are being asked to write 500-1,000 blog posts for $5. That's not a typo! We can blame ourselves to some extent if we say we are "freelance writers." That has a negative connotation. We are more than writers. We work with clients on their brand and how to shape the key messages about their business that we will weave into the copy. That is a lot of value added.

    Regarding your book, do not hesitate to go the self-published route. A friend just wrote a children's book that was published by Amazon. I intend to write an e-book next year that I will self-publish.

    The key is compelling copy and a plan to market it yourself. Even the traditional publishing houses do very little for the new author. All their marketing money goes into the blockbuster authors.

    Best wishes for a happy, healthy and prosperous 2012.

  11. wizardofwords says:

    Thanks for dropping into the blog, and for sharing your experiences with us, Stan. We can all learn from the experiences of others and from our own mistakes.

    Freelancing is a never-ending challenge, but fortunately one that is well worth the effort — if not financially, definitely on a personal development and satisfaction level. All the best to you in 2012.

  12. Stanley R Taylor Communications says:

    I have had a good year doing what I do best: Giving Science workshops with students and for educators.

    I took on another science curriculum writing assignment that involved twice the work than I agreed to for what they were paying me. I say twice the work because the writer with whom I was paired to share the writing did nothing. When I asked the powers-that-be for the money they were to pay him to come to me since I wrote the entire curriculum, they said "no." Guess who I won't be writing for in the future?

    When it comes to my colleagues in PWAC, I'm still a beginner with so much to learn.

  13. wizardofwords says:

    Thanks to Sandra, Molly and Sherryl for your most welcome comments. I have certainly appreciated the friendship and mutual support we have formed.

    Sandra: 3 awards this year! WOW! Congrats and keep the momentum going in 2012. You deserve it!

    Molly: Thanks for always making me laugh and for being a great Twitter friend.

    Sherryl: Like Sandra, you are so generous with your knowledge and time. Thanks for all the sharing and the caring. But yes … take time to care for your own site and your own promotional needs.

    May 2012 be terrific for us all!

  14. Sherryl Perry says:

    Doreen, It's not only professional writers who feel the impact of "free" content. A lot of people are also offering free advice and information. Some of it is inaccurate and insufficient. My grandmother used to always say "the cream rises to the top". I believe your expertise coupled with your perseverance and dedication will pay off in the long run.

    My biggest achievement has been that a real community has formed on my blog. That was always my intention. My biggest challenge is marketing myself. I have done an extremely poor job of making it clear what services I offer. It's definitely time for me to give my own website some TLC.

    Best wishes to everyone here for a happy, healthy and rewarding 2012!

  15. molly campbell says:

    Doreen, I know exactly what you mean! I just keep plugging away, and I have been told by some really great writer friends that it takes time, and every writer is on his/her own calendar. I now focus on what I am doing, and try to pay no attention to those writers out there who have made their mark ahead of me. I wish you the very best success in the New Year, and let's just keep on supporting each other and our fellow writers! ANd I thank you for the Klout! xo

  16. Sandra Phinney says:

    Challenges? Having two hip replacements took out a huge chunk of time from my writing life (and my income). So the biggest challenge for me this year was to keep ahead of the boogie man at the bank. Also to find markets that pay well and don't take all rights is a constant challenge.
    Achievements? Three writing awards. What a thrill! Also joined the Canadian Writers Group and creating my profile there this week.

    I think one of the things about freelancers is that we are a resilient breed and are able to rise above whatever challenge comes our way. (Or turn lemons into lemonade as they say.) And we're forever looking for that pot of gold. haha.

    Best wishes Doreen (et al) for 2012. May it be full of blessings and buttercups.

  17. wizardofwords says:

    Thanks, Christine. It's always great to hear from you and receive your words of encouragement.

    I, for one, am definitely glad that 2011 is coming to an end. I'm ready for full steam ahead, and I find that energy just didn't come in 2011.

    Cheers and all the best,

  18. Christine Peets says:

    Yes, it's been quite a year. In some respects, I'm glad it's over; in other regards, I wish this year, or at least this month, was a little longer.
    I've got work and travel lined up for the first few months of 2012, and am not looking beyond that. I truly try to live "one day at a time."
    Thanks for taking me on your "chocolatour." Take that leap of faith and know that a publisher, or self-publishing will be right for you when you're ready. Happy New Year!

  19. wizardofwords says:

    Thanks so much, Füsun. You and my PWAC pals are among my greatest supporters. Where would we be without one another?

    Here's hoping that 2012 brings you much love and light.

  20. Füsun Atalay says:

    Dear Doreen,

    Thank you for your good wishes and a look back on your year. 2011 has been one of calm for me following the previous three years of personal loss, taking stock, and learning to accept and to move on. I hope 2012 will continue in granting most of our heart's fondest wishes as we welcome it with hope and continued friendship. My very best to you. ♥

  21. wizardofwords says:

    Thanks for starting off the discussion, Claudine.

    Transitions are always interesting. 2010 was my year of transition (from periodical writer to author of non-fiction books.) That brought its own set of challenges, but also a wonderful set of achievements.

    I think that's what's so incredible about our lives as writers. In most cases, we are continually evolving and taking on new challenges.

    All the best to you in 2012 and always,

  22. Claudine says:

    All the best for the new year, Doreen! I'd have to say 2011 has been a year of transition for me, leaving an employer and starting a new term with another – through it all, grateful to be able to continue to earn a living as a writer. As well, my daughter is in Grade 12, so it feels like a transition in my life as a parent, too. The new year will be about what's next, and it's exciting. Thanks for sharing your challenges and achievements with us!

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