This month, we sit down with long-time Scripted writer Jennifer C. to to discuss juggling family and writing, how to approach new subject matter, and life as a freelancer during COVID-19.
Tell us a little about yourself. (As much as you’re comfortable sharing, of course!)
My name is Jennifer, but everyone calls me J Lynn. I have four children: Destiny, 23; Ian, almost 21(!); Rainijane, 17; and Dustin, 15. I want to be an author someday and I've got tons of ideas. While I've got several books started, I've switched gears recently – my significant other and best friend in the world passed away this month. My first book is going to be about him and the way he impacted my and my children's lives.
Where are you from and where are you operating currently?
I grew up in the small town of Roscommon, Michigan. I still remember when we got a McDonald's! I've lived in Florida and California, but I've lived in Washington state for nearly 6 years now.
How did you become a freelance writer and how long have you been writing for Scripted?
Back in 2010, I was desperate to find some type of work that I could do from home. It took about 7 months of scouring the internet daily before I found some meager paying platforms. After sweating it out for a couple years, I stumbled upon a nearly new platform, Scripted. That was in August of 2012 and I've been with them ever since. This platform has been my saving grace more than once.
The world has changed considerably in the wake of COVID-19. How has it impacted you as a freelancer?
It's hard to believe just how much the world can change – for there to be a very discernible line between pre-COVID-19 life and today's new "normal". Because I live very rurally, you don't see it as much here, but as a freelance writer, it impacted me nearly immediately. One of my longest-standing clients put me on standby – I was writing 10 luxury travel blog posts for her every week.
Things are definitely changing in that industry. What kind of topics do you frequently find yourself writing about?
I love writing about sales and marketing. And accounting. I feel like some might think these are the most boring topics…but to me I find them fascinating. Especially marketing. It's an entire science of giving people what they want, where they want it, and how they want it. And writing about it makes me a teacher of sorts. I get to teach people how to do that. I love that!
How do you handle being assigned a topic that you haven't previously tackled?
Lots of research! I love learning new things. Writing lets me do that. I'll begin by searching the main keyword(s) on Google, see what thought leaders have to say about the topic, and then expand my search by using long-tail keyword phrases. And this is probably an unpopular opinion, but I like going past the first few pages of results. I've found some really well-written pieces that either just haven't gotten the attention they deserve, or the piece is so new it hasn't had a chance to work up to page one results yet.
How have you been able to balance your work as a freelancer with the rest of your life?
It's actually really easy for me. I love writing so much that it's the first thing I do in the morning – after coffee, of course. After I've finished my personal quota for the day, I switch gears to family and household chores. I crave routine, and I think I have it down to a science.
What tips would you recommend for writers who are new to working from home?
Everyone is different, but my advice would be to keep family space and workspace separate. For instance, my children's rooms are downstairs, my room and my office are upstairs. Also, wherever you choose to make your office, keep it tidy. I have a laptop but I have it set up like a desktop with a corded mouse and cordless keyboard. It gives me just enough of the illusion that I can't work from anywhere else, so I have to stay at my desk until I'm finished for the day. And my desk has to be clear. Finally, and it relates to the above two tips, have discipline. It's easy to say, "I want to watch TV, or scroll through Twitter". But save those things for after you've fulfilled your personal quota, which can be a specific word count or piece count each day. That's up to you. But whatever you choose, have the discipline to stick to it. You'll be glad you did.
Is there anything you’d like to plug?
I spend a lot of my time writing for clients, so I'm not always able to devote time to my own writing goals – but I'm working on it. My website, jlynncameron.wordpress.com, has some short stories I wrote a few years ago, as well as some photography of mine. You can also follow me on Twitter @jlynncameron. Feel free to stop by and say hello!