To kick off the first installment of our Writer Spotlight Series, we sat down with Singapore-based writer Laurenzo O. to talk about how he became a highly popular Scripted writer with nearly 200 accepted jobs in only ten months.
How did you become a writer?
As a teen, I figured I was going to specialize in at least one of two things - become a writer and/or psychologist. To be a psychologist, you'll need to study for like a million years, so I decided to write instead. I may return to psychology in future, perhaps once I'm more established as a writer. But the path wasn't clear-cut. I was initially uncertain about my writing skills, I would only write (pen on paper) as a hobby. My works were accumulating dust and silver fish under my bed. My wife labelled me as a closet writer. I was hopping from one lame job to another until I realized that passion is something that shouldn't be ignored.
My wife introduced me to an independent film director who wanted some blog content done for his crowdfunding business. I was jobless at that point, so I took a leap of faith. The pay wasn't something to shout about, but that’s what started it all. It has been three years since I emerged from that closet and I'm proud to say that I'm a full-time writer who's doing what he loves.
Where are you operating from?
I was born and raised in Sunny Singapore. It is a cosmopolitan nation, a former British colony with eclectic cuisine and an endless summer. An acquired taste really, but doubtlessly a land of opportunities if one were worldly. I'll leave it at that - worldly. I'm currently writing from Singapore, but I've written while on trips to Malaysia, Vietnam, Australia, and New Zealand. I don't feel the need to be bound by borders in what I do. Inspiration can strike anytime and anywhere, just like a flash storm.
How did you find success on Scripted in such a short time on the platform?
I'm extremely opinionated and expressive in my interactions, dialogues and pitches. Basically, the way I approach a client is exactly how I would speak to someone face to face. During the budding days of my writing career, I'd do tons of cold pitching to random companies that I found on the internet. I'd send emails and text messages, recommending innovative ways to improve their site content, etc. I didn't pause to consider if they had their own in-house wordsmith, or the budget for a freelancer. It was really a hit-and-miss promotion of my services. A platform like Scripted was a game-changer. For starters, Scripted clients are actually interested in getting work done, so that definitely makes things easier. Every Scripted pitch I create uses a personable tone, with a genuine interest in offering a writing service that makes a difference.
What makes for a good proposal?
It is vital to understand exactly what the client wants. You may choose to apply a template in getting the basic introductions out of the way but when it comes down to the meat of your proposal, you’ve got to systematically dissect the project. Break it down - identify what the client is looking for. If a client seems vague, prompt them, ask questions on your own. Don't leave anything to guesswork. Some clients aren't native English speakers and things might get lost in translation. Also, different cultures express themselves in their own special way - some clients may respond abruptly or seem rude but in truth, it's just their cultural style. Oh, and of course, there are varying personalities to consider too.
A solid proposal zooms in on key points and provides a concise suggestion for each point while considering the client's perspective (this may be inferred from the structure of the content brief).
How have you been able to balance your work as a freelancer with the rest of your life?
Parenthood is an effective teacher. I've got two little ones who train my patience on a daily basis. The trick lies in setting priorities and sticking to them. Self-discipline is a must. When I'm distracted, I'd ask myself, did Alexander the Great, Edison, or Jesus waste any time? (I'd think not since given they achieved wonders by the time they hit their 30s). But of course, taking breaks when required. An exhausted mind is incoherent and unproductive and edits are no fun.
What advice would you give to new writers on Scripted?
Pitch everyday, keep the momentum going. You will have your fair share of rejections but that is an integral part of writing. You'll never please everyone, even God doesn't have that effect. Don't get lost in the details. The guidelines in the content brief are just that - guidelines. Focus too much on them and you're going to write a crappy proposal. Be natural. Write the way you speak and let that shine in your pitch.
What projects are you working on right now?
I'm working on a story titled the “Brothers Palimarr”- about a pair of brothers (no surprise there) with diametrically-opposed personalities (one is a prince charming/Jamie Lannister sort while the other is a bookish giant with mild acromegaly). I'm hoping to get it published by the end of the year. The Brothers Palimarr is the first book in a mystical series titled Vithar: Legends of Amnesty. It is going to be huge and immersive- I've plotted maps and experimented with some in-story meal recipes that are replicable in real life. Oh, and I'm planning to start a podcast series called "What in the World", with my good friend Navin. It's going to be something outrageous by the side involving pop culture, current affairs and the works.