Keep calm and follow up

Keep calm and follow up

A fellow writer asked for the best piece of advice I had for freelancers. Follow up, follow up, follow up.  As soon as I send something (a story pitch, a request for an interview, whatever), I schedule the follow ups on my calendar. This diffuses any emotional reaction to nonresponse/silence, and keeps things moving along on schedule. […]

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 […]

Which comes first, the story or the market?

Which comes first, the story or the market?

Looking for story ideas first and then scrambling for market suggestions often doesn’t work out in the long run. It likely took me a while to figure this out because that method is so common amongst freelance writers that it appears as if it’s the way things are done. Freelance forums typically have a bunch […]

Freelance Boot Camp: Writing queries that sell

Freelance Boot Camp: Writing queries that sell

Registration for the online version of Freelance Writer Bootcamp is currently closed. Sign up here to be the first to hear when enrollment opens up again.  It’s one thing to have a great idea for a story, another to know your dream markets, and something else entirely to know how to write a pitch letter […]

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 […]

Infographic: How to Become a Successful Freelance Writer

After hearing me describe the process of deconstructing a magazine to identify the most freelance-friendly sections, and how to customize a story idea, a student stared at me, with her mouth agape. “That sounds like a lot of work,” she said. Well, yes. But anybody who spends any time reading how-to-pitch type guides quickly hears […]

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 […]

On my bookshelf: Solrevolution

On my bookshelf: Solrevolution

“My” new book has been published! I wrote the South African sections of Solrevolution, which has finally arrived from Sweden thanks to the South African postal strike ending. If Monocle were to create a coffee table book in Swedish about solar energy, this is what it would look like. Another post soon to come on […]

Coffee coffee buzz buzz buzz: What’s brewing?

Coffee coffee buzz buzz buzz: What’s brewing?

US alternative weeklies were still in their heyday back when I began writing for a living. Shortly after I left my day job (i.e., went from part- to full-time freelancing), I pitched a couple of arts ideas to an editor at The Washington Blade, who in return asked if I would be interested in a […]

Mandela’s South Africa

Mandela’s South Africa

Even when it’s expected, death still surprises. Prior to Mandela’s death, I had numerous conversations with editors about content that they wanted to have at the ready. It’s standard practice for news organizations to prepare obituaries of well-known people on file, but the preparations for Mandela were extreme. In the hours and days after the […]

Jerry Seinfeld: How to Write a Joke

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

How do you answer, “Who do you write for?”

How do you answer, “Who do you write for?”

Like most questions about freelace writing and journalism, the real answer here is, “It depends.” When sending a query to a new-to-me editor, typically my bio line lists a few credits tailored to the publication. If, say, it’s a enviro/science story, I’ll mention Discover and Ensia; architecture editors find out about Dwell; education editors are […]

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 […]

Screen saver

Screen saver

My annual visits to the optometrist followed a clear pattern: for many years, my eyes became continually more nearsighted. With glasses or contact lenses, vision was 20/20, and at some point the technology improved enough to render lenses thin enough to throw away the coke-bottle glasses of childhood forever. Great stuff for somebody who surely […]

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 […]

An even shittier first draft

Posted in writing
An even shittier first draft

Writing longhand is something of a luxury. It takes more time than typing just on the first draft, and at some point I then have to enter it onto the computer. The quality is often messier–an even shittier first draft, to paraphrase Anne Lammott–yet it’s usually a richer experience that somehow lets me make different […]

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, […]

Writing coach

Posted in journalism, writing

https://www.rebeccalweber.com/coach/ As an experienced writing teacher, I demystify the processes of identifying goals, researching markets and editors, writing salable queries, reporting stories, and editing your own work. Depending on your needs, I might serve as a sounding board, give constructive edits as a first reader on a draft, or advise on how to develop your […]

Zakes Mda

For quite a few years, more people found my website searching for “Zakes Mda” than for any other term; this interview with him, originally published on the now-defunct Africana.com, has been cited in a number of scholarly works about Mda. I first picked up Zakes Mda’s novel She Plays With Darkness at the Grahamstown Arts […]