With all the iPhone apps and Facebook fun we’ve been posting lately, I thought it would be good to throw out the occasional non-geeky thing. My favorite find as of late is Writer’s Dreamtools, a service offered by Larry Belling. You can get free access to historical databases and a section on web humor, but for a very reasonable one-time fee you can score a collection of lists (over 600!), quotes, a slang thesaurus and much more—all compiled over a whopping 25 years. The free stuff is just as good. Have a look at Writer’s Dreamtools—if nothing else it could inspire you to think of some new ways to revise some of your old material with some fresh quotes or quips.
If you are new to freelancing, you’re probably already struggling to learn new phrases and concepts. Words like “invoice” and “kill fee” probably meant nothing to you until you dived right in to the nutty world of self-employment. Now here comes a jerk like me suggesting you learn even MORE new phrases. But it goes without saying that the freelancer lexicon needs a bit of an update–industry jargon 2.0, you might say. Here is a handy list of new phrases we should all be adding to our vocabularies. Take with one grain of salt and use as directed.
10. The device pictured above should no longer be referred to as a phone. It should be called a LEASH.
9. Sleep is not a word freelancers should be using. Replace immediately with the word nap.
8. Sick is a word to be used only when you need to justify a three day weekend. If you need to take a vacation, you should be telling people you have a two-week onsite project.
7. You did NOT just spend $1500 on a new laptop. You took a strategic tactical tax deduction. You also took a strategic tax deduction (STAD for short) on that Playstation 3 you just purchased, but only if you write a review on it for your monetized blog.
6. A magazine that goes bankrupt before paying you is a deadbeat dad. A high-paying magazine that gave you regular assigments that goes bankrupt is called a deadbeat sugar daddy.
5. An editor who won’t return your e-mails is a zombie. When you terminate the relationship with an editor who won’t return your e-mails, you George Romero‘d him. (Romero is the guy who brought zombie lore–including the requirement to shoot a zombie in the head to kill it–to pop culture.)
4. Deadlines should be reclassified. In the military, a deadline is called a suspense. While this seems to be bad usage, it does make sense, as you’ll be keeping the editor in suspense until you actually turn in your work. Will you or won’t you? Maybe we should start using this goofy term instead.
3. Freelance opportunities are often called markets, but are really meal tickets. A magazine that regularly publishes freelancers in our current economy should be known as Daddy Warbucks.
2. Starbucks should simply be rebranded as the Alternate Conference Room.
1. Time-wasting blog entries like this should be called brain candy. In our current economy, freelance blogs themselves could be considered like lifeboats, as in, “You’re a survivor, too?” But then again, most freelancers I know are doing better than the cubicle zombies I know, so maybe there’s a better analogy. Feel free to suggest your own freelancer jargon 2.0 in the comments section.
The 2008 race for the White House is finally over, and here is a handy list of words that no writer must EVER use again, thanks largely to the overkill in coverage of the primaries, the campaign, the debates, and the election itself. Freelancers, you must NEVER write the following words in ANY context:
12. Any combination of “Joe” and “Plumber”
15. Exit Poll
17. Swing State
18. Recount (thanks to Al Franken)
FZ readers, you’ve been warned. Anyone caught using these words in a writing context will be forced to endure every videotaped statement ever made by Sarah Palin that contain any or all of the words above.
In the beginning of a career, freelancers often fail to realize they need to properly interpret job ads, calls for writers and other important communications designed to lure you into a life of making money in your pajamas. Fortunately, we’re here to help. Have a look at this handy vocabulary list and keep these definitions–assembled in no particular order– in mind when you read the next set of writer’s guidelines, a call for submissions or writing contest rules:
Freelancer: Someone with a large supply of alcohol and no steady employment.
Freelance Writer: Someone with a large supply of alcohol, no steady employment, and a website.
Submission Guidelines: A list of Byzantine rules designed to weed out lazy writers, chumps, and noobs. Any disregard for the arcane demands of the guidelines are quickly round-filed with a low, evil laugh.
Exposure: Editor-speak for “no pay”.
Coffee: A performance-enhancing drug.
Writing Instructor: A freelance writer who has enough clients or good paying gigs to turn down paying assignments to hold court for little or no pay.
Zombie: A freelance writer who stops working for the evening.
Writers Wanted: An incomplete sentence which should be fully rendered thus: “Writers wanted for low pay.”
Objectivity: A term sometimes used by magazine editors, roughly translated as “matching viewpoints”.
College degree preferred: A term commonly found in job posts by high-profile media companies such as NPR, CBS, NBC, etc. When found in less prestigious publications, websites or media companies, should be rendered “Writer sought by people who don’t understand the business of writing.”
Multi-tasking: A learned skill. The ability to tell several lies at once about the status of multiple projects.
Telecommuting: The act of working until 7PM without showering or brushing one’s teeth.
Cell Phone: A tool used to enslave creative people to their cruel masters.
Sleep: A five-hour vacation from freelance work.
Phillip Kaplan’s Ask Pud blog is one I come back to from time to time for no other reason than it’s amusing and gives me a break from writing-related stuff for a few minutes. I ran across an interesting post recently that definitely applies to writers.
Just take out the phrases “professional musician” and “rock stars,” insert the word “freelancer” or “writer” and you’ve got the gist. You can safely ignore the snarky bit about heroin–that’s a musician thing, not a writer thing. Besides, what freelancer has time for THAT nonsense? What follows is quoted from Ask Pud: