Dawn has been writing online for more than seven years and boasts over 4,000 articles in that time span. She believes that writing is much more than trying to make a fast buck; it is a way of life and a necessity for those who do it. She resides in a small town in Maryland.
Hi Dawn! Welcome to Mandy’s Pages. I am extremely happy that you agreed to participate in this weekly project. Do tell us a little about yourself.
My name is Dawn Hawkins and I am a full-time freelance writer. The best description of my writing style is flexible. I do not try to tie myself down to one topic because that would greatly limit what can be accomplished. My first love is fiction.
Writing fiction can be a challenging and arduous task. Not all writers have that gift. What triggered you to start writing? Was there any special motivation?
Writing has always been a part of my heart and soul. I think I loved the idea of writing before I could even read. The librarian picked out a picture book for me since I couldn’t read. She said it was better than a book with words because I could create the story. That is what triggered my original love of storytelling. Reading books like “Oliver Twist” and “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” were further encouragements.
Charles Dickens and Mark Twain have influenced many a writer. When you write, how do you usually find your ideas?
One day something might grab my attention from the headlines and sometimes it could be something as simple as walking through the grocery store and seeing something that captures my interest. You never know where an idea might jump out at you. When it does, you have to run with it. Seeing an apple might bring to mind an idea for a beautiful love story or a news story about insecticides.
True, very true. It is like you get to choose which side of the coin works best for you; fiction or non-fiction. Are there any special topics you prefer to write about?
When I first started writing, I would write about any subject that came up. That was a good thing early on and it allowed me to see where I really wanted to be. News stories and op/ed pieces are the most rewarding for me today. It certainly never gets boring with either of those subjects and I find them the easiest to write.
Being a writer myself, I wonder: do you have any sort of Writing Routine?
This is a cliché’ moment. The early bird gets the worm. Rising early is an important part of freelance work. The best time to find the type of writing assignments that you like is often the extreme early morning hours. My routine follows whatever choices become available on a given day. Sometimes the workload is overflowing. Other times it is sparse.
So, with all that writing experience, would you consider yourself an expert in your field?
I do not have formal training, so in that sense I am not an expert. I consider myself a student, always. No matter how much you know about a subject there is always something new to learn. News, opinion, and editorial writing, all cover a wide variety of subject areas. I would call myself intrigued, interested, or excited about these subjects rather than expert.
Many fellow writers, including myself, face writing blocks. Does this sound familiar to you?
If writing blocks do not sound familiar, there is not much of a chance the person is a writer. Those times can be difficult. The best thing to do when you run into a block is to talk to other writers, initiate a few fun exercises, or sometimes go for a drive or walk to jiggle the ideas loose. The writing community is one of the most united group of competitors in the world. I listen to their ideas to help unblock those areas.
Do you face challenges as a writer?
Writing blocks are the most common problem I have. It is also a common occurrence to feel the need to break out of the ordinary and write something out of this world. Writing articles had always been fun; however, one way I shake things up a bit is to dive into a novel idea. I currently have five ideas on the table. Articles must come first though.
Tricky question now: If a publisher were to review your work, how do you think they would grade you on a scale from 1 to 10, 10 being the best?
It depends on the publisher as to what type of “grade” I would get from them. Every publisher has a different idea of what they love and what they hate. There is no way to determine what each one is thinking. In some cases I have been “graded” on the work that I have done. It seems that most publishers appreciate the work and the scoring is most often at the high end of the scale.
Hm... Then maybe, would you rate your quality of writing from 1 to 10?
Most writers are their own worst critics. I am no exception to that rule. No matter how much time I take with anything that I write, I still find places that I could have improved, expanded, or researched a little deeper. I try to write everything with all I have. I do not place a scale measurement on any of my work. I try to think of it in one way only. “Is this my best work?” If I can answer “yes” to that, I am satisfied that the work will be in the upper range.
Dawn, I really think you are a very interesting writer, so I would like to know: what are your Top Five Writing Tips?
Be prepared for rejection and criticism, weed out the useless criticisms and listen to advice given from more experienced writers and editors, and everything can be written about but not all things should be. Write because you love it, not for the money. Writing for the money often leads to great disappointment. Choose wisely the topics you write about and who you work for. The first step to that is never give up your copyrights and be careful of publishing on sites that do not allow you to delete articles at will.
What kind of books do you love to read? Do you think they have an impact on your writing?
My favorite types of books are historical fiction and fiction that involve social awareness. It does impact my writing process, especially concerning my own fiction pieces. I have been known to dabble in a little “guilty pleasure” reading as well. These books do not generally impact the method of writing that I prefer. Fiction based in truth will always capture my eye first.
Any favorite quotation or any personal advice you would like to share?
“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” ― Ernest Hemingway. I like this because it is so true. Everything a writer has in him or herself is their life’s blood. Writers who have never felt that need to re-examine their methods and try again. It is a draining experience because when you write with your entire heart, you become (temporarily) what or who you are writing about.
So, what stands out for you Dawn when you visualize your future?
I try to think more about the present than the future or the past. My greatest hope is to pen a classic novel that could easily stand next to favorite authors like Mark Twain. Chances are that I will never know if that happens. For now, I am simply satisfied that the opportunity exists to do the one thing I have loved my entire life.
Why should a publisher or client hire you? (Be as brief as possible in 15-20 words max)
Because I have already developed the tough skin writers need in order to satisfy the client’s needs.
Thank you Dawn! It has been wonderful talking to you! All the best for your future endeavors!
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