Writing to Learn

All the Sources You Need in a Minute

There’s no better way to stay informed than writing about the news.  Recently I joined a writers’ website called Skyword. They have a News and Current Events group that’s associated with Gather News.  You have to apply by submitting a sample on a topic of their choice.  If they like what you’ve written, you’re in.

Each time they accept one of your articles, they count how many people click on it, and you get paid once your piece exceeds a certain number of hits. It sounded good to me, so I put my passion for France to work by writing about the recent presidential election and its implications for the European Union.

As it happens, and somewhat to my surprise, I developed a research and write strategy quickly. What I do is, I open some trusted news sites like the New York Times, The International Herald Tribune, CNN, and CNBC.  I search the subject I’m thinking about and spend half an hour reading everything I find.  That done, I  have  an idea of what aspect of the topic hasn’t been covered and go to work, using and citing my sources.

For example, there were lots of comments about Francois Hollande, France’s new president, but no comprehensive introduction to his politics and career for those of us for whom he’s an unknown.  I went ahead and filled the gap using my sources and Hollande’s own webiste, where succinct biographical data proved easy to find.  Gather accepted the article right away and it’s getting reader’s attention.  It’s the least ego crushing experience of all the writers’ sites I’ve been working with.  Most of them don’t pay at all or pay pennies for hours of work.  With Gather, once you demonstrate that your writing is professional, the process is respectful and straight forward.

What I like most is that since I get paid when and if I attract enough readers, the site keeps me honest.  I strive to write about what people want to know and I work to keep it interesting.  If the tone is off, or a reader doesn’t like my point of view, I hear about it in the comments – and a conversation begins.  It’s the most fun I’ve had so far while figuring out the world of freelance writing.

I also love how much I’m learning about France and the European Union.  I’ve stayed vaguely current by reading the Paris daily Le Monde over the years, but haven’t delved into things the way I did when I lived there.  Now that I’m writing about European politics and economics, I have to get my facts and figures straight.  It’s a bit like being back in school, and that’s delightful for an old girl like me.

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