Archive for the ‘writing’ Category

Presentation for NY Medical Writers

Tuesday, November 1st, 2011

I’m giving a talk on Pricing Strategies for Freelancers at the New York Metro chapter of the American Medical Writers Association (AMWA) on Wednesday, November 9. The dinner meeting will take place from 6 to 8:30 PM at the Skyline Hotel, 725 Tenth Ave (at 49th St) in New York City. The cost is $20 for AMWA members, $30 for nonmembers.

I’ve been an AMWA member since I began freelancing 26 years ago. I’ve given presentations about pricing to this group before, and I’ve been asked several times in recent years to do it again. I’ve declined, explaining that surely members must be tired of hearing me speak on the same subject. But when I looked around the room at recent AMWA chapter meetings, I saw many new faces. More and more people are freelancing, and they are anxious to learn more about this important topic.

If you can’t make the meeting, you can learn all about pricing strategies for freelancers in my book What to Charge. It’s available at the NAIWE bookstore at

Work Break

Monday, August 1st, 2011

I worked steadily in July. In an ordinary year, this would not be news. But this is no ordinary year. After the second edition of my book What to Charge: Pricing Strategies for Freelancers and Consultants came out in March, I decided that my main client this year would have an odd name: “Marketing the Book.”

After four months doing little paying work but being fully occupied promoting What to Charge, my favorite client called with an assignment. I happily took it. When his colleague called with another job, I took that one too.

As usually happens after a break from my ordinary business, I launched into these assignments with a vigor that sometimes eludes me when I work steadily for months or years on end. After being away from the ordinary work of my freelance writing and editing business for a spell, I return with new energy, insight, and speed.

Vacations don’t cut it for me. I am not refreshed by a vacation that involves preplanning, travel, and early rising; I’m exhausted! But taking a break from business, often while still working but without pay, rejuvenates me.

In my 26 years as a freelancer, I’ve had seven or eight work breaks of one to four months. Two were forced by recessions that temporarily halted the work flow. The others were breaks I gave myself, either as a reward or as an opportunity to concentrate on something I wanted to accomplish. During these breaks, I’ve often worked, but at my own pace and without pay. I finished a novel, wrote and 10 years later revised What to Charge, created courses I wanted to teach, and cleaned and reorganized my office. These were activities I couldn’t complete when I had clients to satisfy.

Other freelancers manage to accomplish what I do on work breaks while they are simultaneously working for clients. I applaud them. I need concentrated time away from client pressures. Work breaks work for me.

Talk on Writing Pricing in NYC

Friday, July 15th, 2011

I’ll be on a panel on Monday, July 18, discussing “The Do’s and Dont’s of Writing Pricing.” The talk is cosponsored by the American Society of Journalists and Authors and Gotham Ghostwriters. It takes place from 6 to 7:30 PM at New York University’s Carter Journalism Institute, 20 Cooper Square, 7th Floor. The presentation will be simulcast on the Web. Check it out at

Memorable Writing

Friday, June 10th, 2011

I went to the theater last night. It was an event I have been waiting for for 15 years.

The play was Arcadia by Tom Stoppard. I saw it when it first appeared on Broadway 15 years ago. It blew my mind away!

Sometimes when I see a wonderful play, I feel so completely satisfied that I never want to see it again. I have felt that way since seeing Brian Dennehy in Death of a Salesman. He WAS Willy Loman, and no actor, however great, will ever be so quintessentially the Salesman.

But with Arcadia, it was different. I have been longing for the chance to see this play again, to be swept away by the language, by the amazing genius of Stoppard that turned mathematics into dialogue.

I heard that the Broadway revival did not match the original production, although it was nominated for several Tonys. So I went to the theater last night prepared to be disappointed.

I didn’t feel the acting or the stage design and lighting were as good as in the first production. But the writing! What a masterpiece! Cerebral yet accessible. Real and imagined. A play with a message that delivers by showing, not by shouting.

So much came back to me as I anticipated and then watched the show. It helped that my seat was almost identical to the first time I saw Arcadia: as far right as you can get, almost close enough to touch the stage. The names of the characters, which I had not heard in 15 years…Ha-ha, the word for sunken fence which was new to me then but which I have since met in many a crossword puzzle…The mathematics and physics and philosophy lessons, miraculously turned into the stuff of drama.

What makes writing so memorable? Is it the excellent execution of an impossible task, such as making math become speech? Along these lines, I hold Philip Roth’s early book Deception, written entirely in dialogue without identifying the speakers (a technique he used later in a few pages of The Human Stain, to equal effect) as a memorable work.

Characters whose names alone bring back the reader to their first encounter—that too may chacterize a work as memorable. I recall rereading Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead and immediately feeling my old friend Howard Roark was calling on me after a long absence. Same for Little Women, especially Jo. If I read any book set in a cold climate or including a train that has a character named Anna, I am transported back to Russia in the days of Anna Karenina.

Sometimes,a single word or phrase makes writing memorable. For me, it was “ha-ha,” the sunken fence, in Arcadia…Many words and phrases in Shakespeare…On a mundane level, a lot of advertising: Where’s the beef? Can you hear me now? Please don’t squeeze the Charmin.

Writing can be memorable for a variety of reasons. I hope readers find at least some of my writing memorable.