Monday, June 21, 2010

A writer's administrative duties

I had a rather harsh reminder recently not to ignore the administrative duties that comes with being a freelance writer. I used to be on top of my email inbox at all times, but in the last couple of years I have gotten pretty lax about filing client emails and deleting unimportant ones. As a result, my PST file got so big that it locked me out Saturday night.

And unfortunately, since I've also been lax about backing up my work files, I didn't have any recent (as in, newer than 6 months ago) backups.

So I spent about 15 agonizing hours trying to rescue my PST file without trimming off too much of the valuable data it contained. Every time I trimmed it, I also had to scan and repair it, so the process took a while each time. By trimming a megabyte at a time, I finally got a workable file with 10MB trimmed off.

I got lucky and it doesn't seem like I lost much, if anything at all, but I will need to be careful in the future so that it doesn't happen again. This means, however, that I need to be sure not to let myself get so busy that I don't have time for administrative tasks. I found those and housework (especially laundry!) are the first to go when I get really busy, because I sure as heck am not giving up my time with my horse. What do you give up first when you get busy? And how do you manage your time so that the tasks you don't prioritize as high still get done?

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Good idea, bad writing

One of my favorite horse blogs, Fugly Horse of the Day, featured an Examiner.com article today. The premise was great — she applied to several horse rescues with made-up financial information, pictures of a property that's not hers, and even a picture of a starving horse she doesn't own. It was a great idea for investigative journalism: One rescue actually approved her, while one only denied her when they saw the picture of the horse. As she pointed out, she could have taken pictures of a beautiful property and a gorgeous horse, and they would have welcomed her with open arms, without ever checking that the property and the horse actually belonged to her.

(I'm linking to Fugly's post, by the way, NOT to the Examiner.com article. You can get there from the blog post if you want to read it, but I don't want to contribute inbound links to that site. Not that it'll make a difference, but still.)

Like I said in the title, great idea... Bad writing. The article was littered with grammatical errors, and lots of bad decisions about when to capitalize. (Seriously! Why do some people capitalize everything that seems remotely important to them?!) The writing also lacked some pizazz — the story was told pretty straightforwardly, but wasn't very compelling unless you really really care about horses. It was a great example of how poor writing can ruin a perfectly good idea.

Furthermore, I'd venture to say it was the wrong forum for investigative journalism. As much as Examiner.com likes to characterize themselves as made up of citizen journalists, I suspect they probably don't allow their "writers" to post anything negative about businesses. They are not a newspaper, so there would be too much pressure on them to take it down.

My irritation with the article made me realize that to me, poor writing trumps what site you write for. Really, if you want to write for peanuts, that's okay. Whatever. Just don't write like you are writing for peanuts!


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