Freelance Writing Greatest Hits

I’ve been a full-time freelance writer since 2012. In addition to my current slate of publications and clients, I’ve also written for sites like Barnes & Noble, Popular Science, The Penny Hoarder, and NBC News as well as corporate clients like Unbounce and KlientBoost.

Here are some of my favorite pieces:

What it’s like to take a 36-hour sleeper train from LA to Seattle: Boing Boing, 2014

The trouble was we were both practical enough to want neither the fox, the hen, nor the bag of corn to do too many jumps back and forth. We had finally agreed that the most logical solution was for me to make the move solo – to pack everything up myself, drop it into a moving storage container, and fly up to the Pacific Northwest. That idea did not sit well with either of us. And, that night, we kept coming back to the train.

How to Start Your Career in Comedy: A Guide for College Students: Splitsider, 2014

If you want a career in comedy, you’re probably wondering what you can do to get from Point A: Where You Are Now, No Comedy Career, to Point B: Amazing Comedy Career, Life Dreams Achieved. You’ve got a lot of other people who are working towards the same goal, and they are going to be both your collaborators and your competition.

Dispatch From a Mars Widow: Yearbook Office, 2015

In 2015, we didn’t yet know that when somebody said, “I’d like to go to Mars someday,” in that offhand revealing-but-not-too-revealing way that people share information on first dates, the tentative sniffing around the butts while remaining fully clothed, we didn’t yet know that meant get up, walk away, throw a $20 on the table and never come back.

The Economics of Neko Atsume: The Billfold, 2015

The first thing you need to understand is that the cats have won. You’re not quite sure how it happened — the joke was always that the cockroaches would win, right? — but it turns out that cats very much enjoy killing cockroaches, and so here we are.

Your job is to feed the cats and, though you’d never say it aloud even in whispers, present offerings to the cats.

Ask a Freelancer: 10 Mistakes That’ll Ruin Your Freelance Career: The Freelancer, 2015

It’s a little hard to say why any individual freelancer isn’t moving up to the next level. I’m going to assume you aren’t making any of the obvious blunders like missing deadlines, turning in sloppy work, or arguing with your editors over every revision.

But there are plenty of less pronounced mistakes that could be torpedoing your progress.

Is ‘Hamilton’ the Musical the Most Addicting Album Ever? Popular Science, 2016

“If you can figure it out, let me know,” says Tim Latham, the mixing artist who worked not only on Hamilton, but also on In the Heights, Miranda’s previous Tony award and Grammy award-winning musical.

“The best way to describe my job would be to make sure that the story translates,” explains Latham. “I make sure that every note played by every instrument, every word, every syllable sung, is articulated in a way that is heard.”

From the Diaries of Minerva McGonagall: SparkLife series, 2016–2017

Today was my first Transfiguration exam: turning a mouse into a snuff box. Professor Dumbledore gave us all three tries, and I was worried that I wouldn’t pass on my first go. You still pass, even if it takes you three times, but I didn’t want to make any mistakes. Not with Professor Dumbledore watching me.

Why I Decided to Self-Publish The Biographies of Ordinary People: The Billfold, 2017

The shortest answer is because I believe I can earn an equivalent amount of money (as I would through a traditional publishing arrangement) while remaining true to my vision and getting both volumes out within an 18-month period. This, by the way, is a specific answer to the question “how should I publish The Biographies of Ordinary People?” It isn’t meant to imply that self-publishing is always a better option than traditional publishing, either for myself or for other authors. It just means that I think it’s the best choice for these two books.

How One Freelance Writer Made $87,000 in 2016: The Write Life, 2017

I ended up writing over 527,000 words in 2016 — more than 700 individual assignments, ranging from a 60-word blog post to a 10,000-word ebook — and earning $87,709.33 in freelance income.

As you might remember if you’ve been following this column, I earned $63,571.12 in 2015 — which means that I increased my freelance income by over $20,000 for the second year in a row.

Fans, Fiction, and Representation: A New Hope: Longreads, 2017

There’s something about Star Wars: The Force Awakens that feels both delightful and urgent, as if it were both a joy to create and a story that must be told at this particular moment in history. People who lined up to see the film when it released last December—and then immediately bought tickets to see it again—are now buying the DVD or Blu-Ray or streaming version so they can watch The Force Awakens for the fifth (or tenth) time at home. They’re also creating fanart, writing their own narratives, and celebrating the idea that the Hero’s Journey has been opened up to a new group of heroes.

How to Keep Your Energy Up When You’re Totally Stressed Out, Lifehacker, 2017

Knowing that information—specifically, knowing what a regular day in the life I want to live looks like—helps me spend less time thinking about what I need to do during the day and more time doing it. It also helps me recognize when I’ve had too many “irregular days,” which is usually when the stress starts to pile up, and when I need to start thinking about what aspect of my life is causing this stress and how I can fix it.

Never Write a Novel With an En-dash in the Title, The Awl, 2017

Never write a novel with an en-dash in the title. You’ll finally learn the alt code, after months of searching “en-dash” in another tab and copying the result every time you type your own novel’s name, but the real issue is that you’re going to be filling out a lot of forms, on Kirkus and Indiebound and Amazon, and half the forms will automatically convert your en-dash into a hyphen, and you’ll wonder if everyone who reads your title on one of those websites with one of those forms will assume you don’t know how to appropriately punctuate a date range.