Writing Tips at GarySpeer.com

Tips for writers and musing about writing and life

How do you approach paid writing assignments?


When I first started making a substantial part of my income by writing, I did a lot of assigned writing for a religious publishing house. (My long ago undergraduate degree was from a Bible college.) The assignments they gave me, mostly carefully defined as to length and content, were such things as Sunday school quarterlies and daily Bible-based devotionals.

Each assignment generally included a specific Scripture reference and often a specific outline and general format approach. Pretty easy way to work, and I really appreciated both the opportunities to get published and to make a little money.

These days, probably 99 percent of my writing is self-generated, not on assignment. But once in awhile I write website content that is sort of like a very loosely defined “assignment,” so it’s always interesting to see how others do things and maybe a good way to pick up some tips and share them with all.

What do you do as you approach a well-defined “writing assignment” or even just a carefully thought out freelance project? Do you take time first for research to establish and familiarize yourself with the subject matter or project at hand? Or do you sort of think through the topic in a general fashion to plan out where you want to go with the research?

Those are two fairly different approaches to writing, both probably good depending on how you like to work. If you were going to write a how-to article, say on how to get rid of blackheads, would you first do basic research? Or would you think about the topic and how you wish to approach it? For example, would you feel the need to check some medical advice sites first, or would you first pull out the notepad and decide whether you want to do something like a “how to get rid of blackheads in x-number of easy steps”?

Tell us how you like to work — are you a research lover or a “big picture” concept sort of person by preference? Leave a comment, either specifically how you might approach that topic or something general about how you approach your writing assignments. Thanks for sharing.