Lindy Alexander is the big-hearted genius behind The Freelancer’s Year, a blog (and associated newsletter) that provides practical advice, honest insight and generous encouragement to other writers.
I have long admired Lindy so I decided to find out more about her journey into professional writing. Here’s what she said.
How did you get into writing?
I’ve always written and loved writing, but I never really entertained the thought that I could be a writer, apart from being a news journalist (and I felt I was too thin-skinned for that) or a starving artist novelist.
It wasn’t until I was pregnant with my son in 2011 when I did a short course in feature writing for newspapers and magazines and had a few articles published that I realised it was possible to be a writer without a journalism background and without writing a book.
How have you refined your craft?
I think there’s no better way to refine your craft than by submitting your work to editors for it to be scrutinised and read critically. Feedback from editors has always been of benefit, even if it has sometimes been in ALL CAPS and delivered harshly!
Have you had any significant mentors?
I don’t know if I’ve had mentors specifically, but I’ve definitely had people who have inspired me.
For example, Jennifer Gregory’s blog gave me so much inspiration and encouragement when I was looking at going full time as a freelance writer.
What’s your favourite thing to write?
I love travel writing, because it’s always a challenge to write beautiful prose that isn’t clichéd or overblown. I also love reporting on important women’s health issues like this article on premenstrual dysphoric disorder or stories that are under-reported like memory systems and ancient knowledge.
What’s the biggest myth about being a professional writer?
That you can’t make money from writing. You can. It’s so common to hear the ‘starving artist’ line that you start to believe it. But I know lots of freelance writers who are earning excellent money from writing (me included!).
What advice would you give someone who wants to become a great writer?
You have to write. Regularly. Practice makes progress, and I don’t think you can ever really be great unless you write regularly. I look back at some of my first articles and cringe. I think that’s good because it shows that I’ve improved. It would be a worry if I looked back and thought that all my initial attempts at writing were wonderful.
Can you recommend any blogs/books/podcasts that you have loved and why?
For business writers, Ed Gandia’s podcast is wonderful (and I was lucky enough to be a guest recently where I spoke about how to earn good money from freelance writing by leveraging relationships.
Jennifer Gregory’s blog is also a really great resource for freelance writers.
I love Dave Eggers (Zeitoun is just fantastic), travel writer Catherine Marshall and Australian journalist Trent Dalton, who writes with such sensitivity and perceptiveness.
Writing rituals or habits?
I like to write in the mornings as I find that I can concentrate better and am more productive then. Afternoons I use for more administrative tasks like emailing, pitching and invoicing. I don’t really have any firm habits and rituals. If I’ve got a cup of tea (Earl Grey) by my side then I’m ready to write!
Lindy Alexander is an Australian freelance travel, food and lifestyle writer who regularly contributes to Australian and international publications such as delicious., Travel + Leisure Southeast Asia, The Guardian, The Telegraph, The Sydney Morning Herald, The Saturday Paper and more.