Having Abigail Bassett speak to our class was really inspiring. My biggest takeaway was this is truly a business where you have to figure out what you want and what you’re worth — and that may not always be following the money. To hear her story of leaving a major outlet so she could be a freelance writer was really motivating. This is also a business where we need to keep pushing ourselves to do more, and not to become stagnant, especially with the way media keeps changing. We need to keep growing and perusing our best selves.
For most students sitting in our seats right now, the idea of having a steady job at a major outlet like CNN is the dream. But it is important for us to think beyond that. If we do get there, what if it is not what we expected? Or what if it is for a period of time and then we are ready for a new challenge? We should never limit ourselves to one job on one path just because it’s safe. This business is about risk; that is how you are really going to get where you want to be even if you don’t exactly know where that is.
I like that Abigail talked about starting as a freelance writer and how she built her resume, then how she returned back to it once she was established and now she is able to be choosy with her work. Again at our age I think we are not likely to turn down work, as we shouldn’t as we are still building a reputation and figuring out what we are good at and what we like to report on but I think as we move further into our careers it is important to know that that is an option.
Another aspect of talking with Abigail that I found really helpful was learning about her lifestyle. When going into this field I think it is important to have an idea of what you think you want out of life. She talked about how she travels a lot and that is something that I am interested in, but also about how she doesn’t get a lot of sleep because the only free time she has could be late at night. That’s not a lifestyle that everybody wants so being a freelance writer may not be the best option for someone who wants to stay in one place and have normal working hours.
The advice she gave about sticking to deadlines and having to be self-motivated even as an established writer was helpful as well, I can see where it would get harder to stick to a deadline if you are setting your own schedule, and you have to be consistently perusing your next project if you want to get paid.
To be in this field you have to be self-motivated, but being freelance takes that to the next level. You really have to know how to sell yourself and use your connections. Freelance writing seems very freeing, you are in charge of you and how much or how little you chose to pursue.