What are some foolproof ways of ensuring you get the most out of sources?

On the first day of my journalism course at , we were sent out to find a news story in the local area. After a few false starts (including a man in a newsagents who was clearly just making stuff up on the spot), we got talking to a lady in a pet shop about a cat that had swallowed a customer’s engagement ring.

Upon getting back to the office, we realised we’d forgotten to get the basic information-the lady’s name and contact details, so we could follow up on the story. It was a valuable lesson: it’s vital…


Have you got what it takes?

Anyone who has ever thought seriously about writing for a living has probably heard the expression credited to the American author and Nobel Prize laureate, William Faulkner: “In writing you must kill all your darlings.” But what does it mean?

As I wrote in in 2019, the phrase means making ruthless cuts to your work. I spent my week of annual leave editing my novel, which I wrote last year during lockdown. It was ~80,000 words at the start of the process, but so far I’ve cut 10,000 words and I’m not yet done…


Sometimes it’s OK to take a step back and just breathe

TW: Assault, abuse

It’s 10:13pm and despite my aim of always working one week ahead with this newsletter so that it gives me a chance to self-edit, I find myself sitting in my childhood bedroom surrounded by the candles that I’ve lit to mark the tragic and untimely death of Sarah Everard. I’m so tired. I don’t mean physically: I’m spiritually tired of being a woman and of watching the way that we are treated every single day.

I’ve found it impossible to concentrate this week. I’ve been bubbling away with fury watching the news: how many of us have…


Translating Jane Austen’s Linguistic Consciousness Through Time

Photo by on

It is a truth almost universally acknowledged that Jane Austen is a distinctive stylist. Austen’s use of language is, as critics such as Graham Hough and D. A. Miller stress, one of the most characteristic aspects of her work, contributing in critical ways to her nuanced production of meaning (1970; 2003). While Austen’s stylistic richness is clearly of interest in its own right, it offers considerable challenges to authors engaging with the ‘iterative turn’, a term used by Kaja Marczewska to describe ‘the propensity to copy as an expression of creative and critical practice’ (2018: 6–7). Whilst Marczewska’s arguments centre…


René Magritte is turning in his grave

Album title: This is not a mix tape.

Genre: Generic Spotify ‘Indie’

This is not a mixtape, this is a selection of songs chosen by someone who says she’s not like the other girls but then listens to exactly the same music that every other indie Twitter kid was listening to in 2013.

Gifted: Valentine’s Day 2013

To cover up the fact that this girl desperately wanted the approval of the boy she was trying to impress, she wrote ‘This is not a mix tape.’ on the front of the CD artwork to create the illusion that she, like, totally…


‘Money’ is always a difficult subject

I’m living at home with my parents in Sheffield at the moment, and every day my Mum comes home from work and asks ‘Have you had any £1,000 commissions today?’. I wish, Mum. While I secured a €1/word commission before Christmas last year, this is sadly not the standard sort of rate you can expect as a journalist.

If your parents are anything like mine then their understanding of ‘freelancing’ is wrapped up in the glamorous depictions of fictional journalists like Carrie Bradshaw in Sex and the City, who writes one article a week and somehow still manages to afford…


It was freeing to admit we’re not all ‘Twenty four hour party people’

Before last year, I had plenty of unpaid journalism experience but just one paid byline. As I said in , I think being part of several WhatsApp, Twitter and Facebook journalist groups/groupchats is what’s galvanised me into making a real go of this whole freelancing thing.

If you’re not a member of any such groups but you’d like to join one, Asyia Iftikhar’s () brilliant Facebook group ‘ ’ is a good starting point. …


In case you haven’t noticed, there’s a global pandemic

I have been a real ‘Burnout’ of late

I didn’t send any pitches this week. Truth be told I’ve been feeling a little burnt out — every time I tick something off my ‘to-do’ list I end up adding three more ‘life admin’ tasks to the list. The result is a constant low-level anxiety that there’s so much to do and not enough hours in the day. …


But because it’s Valentine’s Day, here’s some stuff I love

Drenge hit it on the head with ‘People In Love Make Me Feel Yuck’

When I saw that this week’s newsletter fell on Valentine’s Day, I debated skating over the subject altogether. After all, it’s a commercial holiday that plenty of people choose not to observe-why should a journalism newsletter feel compelled to tackle the almighty subject that is love?

Truth be told, despite the bitterness of this email’s subject line, I don’t hate Valentine’s Day. ‘People In Love Make Me Feel Yuck’ is just too good a tune not to include. Don’t tell anyone, but I’m actually a bit of a hopeless romantic… which is why I thought I’d dedicate this newsletter to…


Easy wins for building a rapport as a freelance writer

Magazine… Editors

Following on from last week’s issue where I talked about what editors can do to improve the pitching process for freelancers, I wanted to reflect on what you can do to impress an editor. The single most important thing you can do at the beginning of your journalism career is filing clean, accurate copy on time. And be polite. Read that again. That’s really all there is to it.

You don’t need to have mind-blowing ideas or be a literary genius to establish a good rapport with an editor; being creative comes further down the line where it’s more likely…

Beth Kirkbride

The Indiependent Founder, NCTJ qualified journalist, Oxford University grad. Interested in tech, political communication & data ethics. Tweets: @BettyKirkers

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