Freelancers share strategies, tools for maintaining quality #ahcj13

Yvelette Stines

About Yvelette Stines

Yvelette Stines is an independent journalist in Detroit. She is attending Health Journalism 2013 on an AHCJ-Ethnic Media Health Journalism Fellowship, which is supported by the Leona M. & Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust.

Freelancers have a lot on their plates: pitching, making deadline, managing their time. In the Health Journalism 2013 session “Freelance: Maintaining Quality Under Pressure,” moderated by AHCJ board member and freelance chair Maryn McKenna, presenters gave an inside glimpse into how they meet their responsibilities.

Writing a book while researching and writing articles take time and concentration. Elizabeth DeVita-Raeburn explained how she hired a writing coach to help her work more effectively — “the best thing that I’ve ever done,” she said. “Chunking” — identifying small blocks of time in which to perform small tasks — and planning backwards are two techniques that keeps her organized.

Karen Weintraub, a journalist and author of two books and two e-books, walked attendees through the complexities of co-author collaboration. Among her tips: Make sure you like your co-authors, but try to choose someone whose work style is different from your own — and be prepared for the ego challenge of not receiving the lion’s share of the publicity.

Seth Mnookin — author, blogger and co-director of MIT’s Graduate Program in Science Writing — presented a rapid-fire tour through organizational software, cautioning, “There is no right or wrong set of tools, or ways to use them.” Among his favorites: FoundDivvyReadCubeDevonThink, and If This Then That.