Writing Tips at GarySpeer.com

Tips for writers and musing about writing and life

Are you having fun writing? Tell us about your most unusual writing-for-money gig


What’s the oddest writing you’ve ever done for money? Can you think of something particularly unusual, or is all your writing pretty humdrum?

The range of paid writing available is limited, I suspect, solely by your creativity. From cereal box labels to trade show displays to ad copy for 200-foot billboards to company annual reports, every business uses words. If you’re limiting your writing to direct mail letters, novel manuscripts, and how-to books, you’re limiting your options for making money as a writer.

I confess I’ve not had too many odd or unusual writing assignments. I also probably limit myself by failing to think of the really clever things out there until I’ve seen someone else do them — those, “DOH. Why didn’t I think of that??” Homer Simpson moments.

I offer you this little exercise in creative writing or thinking. Take a small pad and pen or pencil with you and just walk or drive around the town where you live. Spend as much time as you like for this, but I’d recommend at least half an hour or so. You want to cover a fair amount of the town or at least a couple of neighborhoods if you live in a larger city.

While you’re adventuring, write down every place you see during your journey that has words. If you see a store sign, write it down. If you see a billboard, write it down. If you see bumper stickers, write them down. Please, be very careful, of course, to do this safely and not get hurt or run over your neighbor’s cat/dog/kids.

Go home and look through what you’ve written down. Now ask yourself this: “Is there any way I could write like the words I read and get paid for it?”

The answer may be “no, not really” — depending on your circumstances, where you live, your personal willingness to take risks, etc. Much of what you saw probably was staff written. But the point of the exercise was to get you, as a writer, to start thinking about the many, many ways out there that people get paid to write words. Many of those companies or businesses may use freelancers if you step up and ask for their business. Perhaps you’ll find a way to hook into something new to increase your income and polish your writing skills.

Meanwhile, we’ll be waiting right here for you to share your most unusual writing experience.

Oh, yeah, mine — well, my most unusual writing was probably a writing assignment I did for free: I wrote a series of short prayers related to a church building program. Nothing unusual about writing prayers, but the prayers were printed on small slips of papers and tied to bags of small rocks. I guess writing “prayer rocks” seems sort of unusual to me?
[tags]unusual writing assignments, finding writing business, writing on assignment, just a guy who reads the papers[/tags]