Why Marci Teaches Freelance Writing

After practicing law for nearly nine years, in late 1999 Marci did what many lawyers only dream of. She quit to become a writer. Since that time, Marci has written scores of articles for leading publications, authored a book explaining the law to a lay audience, and become a speaker on career issues for lawyers. In the spring of 2002 she held her first private workshop for professionals interested in breaking into journalism.

Marci started her freelance writing course because, at least once a month, she got a call from a someone asking how she made the jump from law to journalism. After a couple of years of receiving these calls, the number of people Marci was informally coaching became unwieldy. There were general advice questions, requests to review essays and article proposals, and quite a bit of hand-holding. What she found was that people were asking the very same questions she had when she first started out as a writer.

The idea to turn this informal counseling into a class came from one of her early mentees. After Marci coached a friend through her first article — from idea inception to publication — Marci’s friend told her that she felt guilty taking so much of Marci’s time. The friend encouraged Marci to teach a class somewhere, and promised Marci she’d be her first student if she did. So Marci took her advice and worked on a course description. With topics ranging from “where to find ideas” and “how to write a killer pitch letter” to “how to shed the corporate shackles” and “legal issues writers should know,” she put together a syllabus. Then she invited editors and other journalists to be guest speakers.

Maric’s first seminar attracted seven students — six lawyers and one advertising professional — and during the period of the class, many of them discovered that they did in fact want to make writing a bigger part of their life. Several of those original students have now published articles in newspapers and magazines, one is writing a trade book for lawyers, and three are collaborating on book projects with other students from the seminar.

In addition to the practical matters covered in class, this seminar aims to create the thing that helped Marci most as a writer–a group of writers with whom one can share the exciting moments of writing (like seeing your name in print) but also a community to commiserate with about the frustrating times (like when editors don’t return calls). Marci believes her students learn as much from each other as they do from her, and that was part of her goal.

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