Freelance Writer Retreat near Cape Town, South Africa

Freelance Writer Retreat near Cape Town, South Africa

Registration for the Freelance Writer RETREAT near Cape Town, South Africa, is now open. Two days of workshops focused on boosting your confidence, skills, and bottom line as a freelance writer. Plus, penguins. Imagine if you could easily generate freelance article ideas that delighted you, your editors (or the editors you want to write for), […]

7 ways your environment impacts your writing and creativity

7 ways your environment impacts your writing and creativity

Is your surrounding environment helping or hurting your creativity? As a freelance writer, you may feel like you’re supposed to be able to work anywhere. Maybe you’ve done great work under stressful conditions. But small environmental stresses can build up over time and erode the confidence, stamina, and support that lead to your best work. […]

That thing you want to write

Early bird registration is now open for the Freelance Writer Retreat near Cape Town, South Africa. Visit www.rebeccalweber.com/retreat to register. In my own small way, I’ve taken the advice of Toni Morrison to heart: “If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” A […]

7 most popular posts of 2016

7 most popular posts of 2016

Would you be surprised to hear that this Backstory blog was originally conceived of as a place to post comics about what goes on behind the scenes when writing articles? A few years ago, I was not imagining that I would be making videos, teaching freelance writers how to pitch, leading goal-planning challenges, or even […]

“Just” an interview vs. THE interview

“Just” an interview vs. THE interview

During a very long delay at the Atlanta airport, way back when, I sat on the floor and read my first longform interview in Rolling Stone magazine. It was my foray into reading adult publications. I was enthralled by the in-depth conversations about the creative process, life on the road, and the surprisingly unglamorous backstories […]

Introducing the Modern Journalist Toolkit

Introducing the Modern Journalist Toolkit

Welcome to the Modern Journalist Toolkit, an ongoing series that looks at new approaches and methods to support reporting and writing. Expect to see a fair amount of technology—some of the most frequent questions I get are about what apps and tools I use—but also new attitudes and strategies that make sense in the 21st […]

Writing Coach 6-Pack Special

Writing Coach 6-Pack Special

When I coach writing students, we normally work together for 12 or more weeks. This allows enough time to work on deeply on multiple challenges and ensures that we can continue to build on early successes. These students know that there’s no silver bullet to freelance success. However, I’ve had numerous requests for a smaller […]

Are you up for a writing challenge?

Are you up for a writing challenge?

The 12×12 Write Now Challenge 2016 begins next Monday, 11 January. Despite the deluge of tweeted resolutions and planning widgets that proliferate at this time of year, I’ve yet to see a plan or process that really meets the unique needs of freelance writers. Over time, I’ve created my own approach to reviewing what I’ve done and […]

2015’s best video about writing and breakthroughs

This video was filmed in 2013, but it has new resonance in 2015, which seems to have been the Year of Ta-Nehisi Coates. For every (frustrated) writer who wants an early draft to be their best, consider that this MacArthur Genius also never gets that “perfect thing” in his head out on to paper. Perseverance […]

On My Bookshelf: Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

On My Bookshelf: Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

If the title doesn’t tip you off, Elizabeth Gilbert’s theories about creativity and ideas are a bit woo-woo. Sometimes, seriously woo-woo. But most of her new book Big Magic is an easy-to-read take from somebody who is serious about her dedication to writing, and who sees creativity as a guiding life force rather than as […]

3 ways to become a better writer

3 ways to become a better writer

On the last morning of a silent meditation retreat, my teacher announced that he would tell us the three most important things about continuing a meditation practice at home. For a week, we had had a respite from daily life: no talking, no internet, no personal sagas, no decisions about what to do next. The normal […]

On My Bookshelf: It’s What I Do by Lynsey Addario

On My Bookshelf: It’s What I Do by Lynsey Addario

An afternoon shopping at New York’s Strand bookstore is an exercise in both decadence and restraint. Like most book lovers, I’ve back and forthed my reading habits to acknowledge the portability and economy of an e-reader. My criteria for buying physical books have become more specific: art and reference books, and out-of-print titles are the […]

What to watch: Movies for the media

What to watch: Movies for the media

This trio of films have all found audiences with the general public, but may have particular resonance with journalists, photographers, and related members of the media. Finding Vivan Maier “Finding Vivan Maier” is both an introduction to the work of the prolific street photographer, as well as a dive into who she was and why […]

Best of 2014: What I read, listened to, and watched

Best of 2014: What I read, listened to, and watched

Most journalists will tell you that one of the best parts of the job is speaking with people whom you wouldn’t otherwise get to meet–and of course, ask them all sorts of questions. One that almost always elicits genuine, passionate responses from creatives is, “What artists from other genres inspire you?” Today’s post is my […]

On Instagram and Scooping Yourself

On Instagram and Scooping Yourself

This morning, after I’d briefed the photographer about the story in progress, we waited in the parking lot of a community hall for a source to arrive and escort us to a new location. I walked to the slightly crumbling mural of O.R. Tambo, snapped a photo, and posted it to my nascent Instagram account. […]

Jerry Seinfeld: How to Write a Joke

The wronger it feels, the righter it is, says Jerry Seinfeld about joke writing.

Vanity searches and Danzy Senna

Whenever Google finds somebody with my name (such as me, or the real estate agent, or the OB/GYN, or the Chicago English lecturer) doing something new, a message alert pops up. The main purpose of this is to catch new articles when they are published online. Sometimes vanity searches turn up reprints or references, such […]

Wole Soyinka turns 80

Wole Soyinka turns 80

Over time, most interviews, be they phoners or even in-person, start to blur together. Some stand out in your memory because of a great conversation or odd location; Wole Soyinka was a bit of both. When I met him for lunch a few years ago, it was with a small group of other journalists, so […]

On My Bookshelf: New Life, No Instructions

On My Bookshelf: New Life, No Instructions

Cherry red. Deep blue. When visiting New York, off-white with a thin seafoam stripe. Whomever designs veterinary surgical tape knows that when your dog comes out of the back room, the best response is, “Ooh, how cute you look, all bandaged up!” My dog, a red fawn Shar-pei, has always gotten a lot of attention, […]

Face in the Kenyan Crowd

Face in the Kenyan Crowd

These have been boom years for cartography geeks, and talking with Juliana Rotich–the Kenya-based, MIT-trained innovator behind crowdmapping sensation Ushahidi, as well as many other BAFA projects–was one of those interviews that makes it easy to love being a journalist. The creation of a healthier ecosystem in Nairobi’s Silicon Savannah where entrepreneurs can thrive depends […]