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📌 Why "write what you know" is bad advice

And the one thing I wish I knew before freelancing

Hi there,

I’d never really believed in “energy vortexes” until I visited Sayulita, Mexico.

Sayulita is a small surf town, sandwiched between the jungle and sea. The Huichol people consider it to be one of the two most sacred places in the entire state of Nayarit (the other one being Alta Vista).

I could leave my hotel room at dawn, not knowing a soul, and return that night with six Whatsapp numbers. People would come up to me while I was buying sunscreen, ordering coffee, or laying on the beach.

It’s just that type of place where everyone is eager to collide worlds. As a girl from NYC — a place where saying “hello” to a stranger is a big social no-no — Sayulita was a wild experience.

This change of scenery inspired me, replenishing my creative stamina. Because the truth is, you don’t become a prolific writer when you’re after 10,000 followers, or six figures, or to be seen as a creative force. Those are extrinsic motivators.

The flow states come when you find what interests you, whether that’s life in Mexico, robo coaches, online misinformation, whatever, and you then share your innate curiosities with others.

Instead of following trends of what you “should” be writing, remember this instead:

“Don’t write what you know—what you know may bore you, and thus bore your readers. Write about what interests you—and interests you deeply—and your readers will catch fire at your words.”

Valerie Sherwood

Will Barnet

✍️ Quick Writing Tip

It's tempting to rely on tools like ChatGPT to generate ideas.

But your best writing is more likely to come from following your own interests and compulsions, as Clive Staples Lewis, author of The Chronicles of Narnia, explains:

🥒 Content Diet

🪝 Copyhackers Blog by Copyhackers - Whenever I’m clueless on how to start an article, I head over to the Copyhacker’s blog for inspiration. They have hundreds of articles with crazy strong hooks, such as this simple gem: “It’s happened again.” I mean, aren’t you curious to find out what happened!?

📖 Easy Beauty by Chloé Cooper Jones - Normally I prefer fiction, but Jones’ memoir is engrossing. Her perspective on motherhood, traveling, and philosophy as someone living with sacral agenesis is eye-opening and astounding.

🏥 The Most Important Asset That You Never Think About By Jack Raines - This piece is a good reminder to not sleep on your health. If you’re curious about heading to the gym but have no idea where to start, I’d also recommend Julian’s guide to building muscle.

✍🏼 Freelancing Journey

This Week: The Retainer Clause You Can’t Live Without

“What's the one thing you wish you knew before you started freelance writing?”

I mulled over this question for approximately .23 seconds before I had my answer. If I had known about this one thing, it could’ve saved me dozens of hours and over $1,200.

In 2021, I was a first-year freelancer and had just signed a retainer client (🍾). They’d wanted four articles a month for the next quarter, which nicely set up my income for the following months…until it didn’t.

One Monday, the client emailed me to let me know they didn’t have anything in their content rotation. They weren’t sure when they’d resume the schedule, but they’d “keep me posted.”

Right.

Unfortunately, I didn’t include a clause in our retainer specifying that the client must pay the price of the retainer in full even if they aren’t able to send me all the deliverables required to finish the project.

Because if you’re “retaining” your hours but your client doesn’t have anything for you, it’s too late to find paid work.

Of course, the goal is to get the project done. But this clause protects you in case a client gets in their own way (which happens more often than you’d expect). Here’s the resource I use to write this clause in my retainer — you can just copy and paste into your next contract.

Happy freelancing!

Thatched Barn and Sunflower - John Scorror O'Connor 1958

That’s it for this week!

Thanks for reading and I hope you have a beautiful week, wherever you are. If you enjoyed this newsletter, why not share it with a writer friend? 🙂 

Stay Creative,

Alice 💌

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