Friday, May 20, 2005

Speedy typing = speedy writing = speedy $$$

SACRAMENTO, Calif. - My students all groan when I tell them a maxim of writing for money - you have to be able to type like a demon. Now there are people who disagree with this, but those are generally novelists, perhaps, or poets, or people writing blogs (not!) who want to ponder more, who want to get just the right word.

And I certainly write like that, but rarely.

When people ask me 'How fast can you write?' I usually reply, 'Oh, about 60-70 words per minute - as fast as I can type.'

If you are writing for money, your time is valuable, it's one of your few resources and it's obviously limited. If you have a 500-word article, for which you are going to get paid $300 (a fairly common number, depending on complexity of the piece) then you don't want to spend more than 10 hours on it - maximum. (For the mathematically challenged, that's $30 per hour, a reasonable fee, though not high.)

So if you can bang out an article in a couple of hours, and spend a couple before that collecting your information, doing interviews, etc., you should be in good shape.

But one danger to watch out for. If you have just one assignment, with a due date of a week away, DO NOT let time expand on you in researching and writing, unless of course it is leading you to other possible stories for future assignments.

Write like a demon and take the leftover time (when you would have dawdled) to pursue other paying pieces, get some exercise, or some other activity.

OP-ED IDEA FOR TODAY - TV's prime time season is over and unless your cable channels are better than mine, the pickings are pretty sparse for stuff to watch right now. So an op-ed about what to do when you turn off the TV is ripe, and especially tied to the upcoming summer months and those vegetable kids who want to sit and watch South Park reruns. Use lots of examples: parks, libraries, organized activities. But give things for adults to do in the evening, too. Maybe get some testimony from a doctor about the benefits of taking a walk after dinner (and three martinis)