Portfolio: Reflection #6 (Freelance Article Query)

The course: Introduction to Freelance Writing

The Introduction to Freelance writing course was probably the most challenging course of the program for me. While the idea of getting paid to write is interesting to me, the need to reach out to strangers for interviews was a struggle for my introverted side.

In this course, we talked about how crucial the opening paragraph of a freelance article is. It sets the tone for the piece and grabs the reader’s attention. With so many sources of information and entertainment available today, it’s critical for the opening of a story to hook the reader. If an article doesn’t seem interesting, the reader can easily ignore it for something they like better.

We talked about the research that goes into writing a freelance article. There are a number of helpful resources for research that we learned about, like databases of journals offered by libraries. As with all writing that requires research, we were reminded how important it is to find sources that are credible.

This class also taught me some of the practical aspects of freelance writing. We talked about how to write and send a query strong enough to pique an editor’s interest. We also discussed preparation strategies and crucial technology for interviews.

I left this course with an increased understanding of how freelance writing works and the strategies writers can use to make a living with it. While I don’t currently intend to pursue a career in freelance writing, I feel confident that I would know where to start if I had an idea for an article.

The assignment

I knew I wanted the bulk of my article to be an interview on mindfulness in classrooms. The challenge with writing a query was finding the unique angle that would draw interest from editors and potential readers.

I established the main character–teacher and counselor Lisa Baylis–early on in the pitch. It was important that my audience know who the article would be about and why they should be interested in that person.

Because I was writing for an audience that might have limited knowledge of mindfulness, I included some background information on what mindfulness is, similar to the information I would include around the third or fourth paragraph in the feature article.

I included information about a scientific study on the benefits of mindfulness for school-aged children to increase the credibility of the information I was proposing to include in article. I also mentioned my plans to interview local experts in psychology and teacher training to provide a factual background to the story.

At the end of the query, I included a biography of my credentials to convince editors why I would be the right person to write the article. I focused on my prior publications, my education, and my personal connection to the topics of meditation and mindfulness.

I made quite a few revisions to my query. In my original draft, I opened with a generic statement on mindfulness. This was partially because I wrote the query before completing the interview. For my revision, I decided to open the query with a scene, which I felt would be more engaging for readers.

I also chose to refine the target market for this. I aimed to publish this in a local parenting magazine, and tailored the content of the query toward that. I felt that was the best way to tackle a popular topic in a way that was unique and relevant to potential readers. That choice led me to put a stronger focus on how local parents and educators could get involved.

Finally, I updated my biography to include some of my more recent accomplishments as a writer.

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Portfolio: Revised Sample #6 (Freelance Article Query)

Query: Victoria Classrooms are Tuning in to Mindfulness

Mindfulness Monday. Students from Reynolds Secondary School are packed into the wrestling mat room. But these teenagers aren’t perfecting their headlocks or trying out a single-leg takedown. They’re practising body scans—lying on their backs on the blue vinyl floor, breathing deeply, and simply paying attention to how their body feels.

At the centre of this strange spectacle is Lisa Baylis, one of the school’s counselors, and the founder of Victoria Educators for Positive Education. She’s an outspoken advocate of mindfulness in the classroom who also offers workshops and professional development sessions to other educators in the Greater Victoria area.

Mindfulness is the act of remaining open and non-judgemental to emotions, thoughts, and sensations arising in the present moment. While its origins lie in Buddhist meditation practices, mindfulness has recently become a secular buzzword and has been accepted by mainstream psychology as an effective treatment for anxiety, depression, and addiction.

Now, mindfulness is moving into the school system with positive results. One study from the University of California showed that second and third graders who practiced mindfulness meditation for one hour a week for six to eight weeks were more attentive and could make better decisions.

For this feature article, I will examine the resources and strategies Baylis is using to bring mindfulness to Victoria classrooms and the advantages mindfulness holds for local families. I’ll also show how Vancouver Island parents and educators can get involved.

I’ll speak to Dr. Wanda Boyer, associate professor Educational Psychology and Leadership studies at the University of Victoria, about how mindfulness can impact a child’s self-regulation—their ability to manage emotional reactions in an appropriate way. I will also consult Dr. Michele Tanaka, assistant professor in Curriculum and Instruction at UVic, about the use of mindfulness in training teachers.

I am an emerging writer with a BFA in writing (minor in religious studies) from the University of Victoria. I have been published as a poet in This Side of West, Poetry is Dead, and Poetry Lives Here.  In 2015, my poem “Parasomnia” won second place in Grain Magazine’s Short Grain poetry contest, and in 2016, my poem “Remains” was shortlisted for Prism International‘s Pacific Spirit Prize. As an associate member of Zenwest Buddhist Society, I regularly meditate and take a personal interest in the advantages of mindfulness.

Portfolio: Draft #6 (Freelance Article Query)

Query: Victoria Classrooms are Tuning in to Mindfulness

Mindfulness. The word conjures the image of a manicured, recently-divorced woman sipping red wine between yoga asanas. Or a vegan ecotourist with dreadlocks and a hemp shirt meditating cross-legged on the steps of a Sri Lanka temple.

Google the word “mindfulness,” and you’ll find over 29 million hits in half a second. Mindfulness retreats, mindfulness apps, even mindfulness workshops aimed at the staff of major corporations.

But for Lisa Baylis, a teacher and counselor in Victoria’s School District 61 and the founder of Victoria Educators for Positive Education, mindfulness is a key tool on the ever-expanding belt worn by educators.

Mindfulness is defined as the act of remaining open and non-judgemental to emotions, thoughts, and sensations arising in the present moment. While its origins lie in Buddhist meditation practices, mindfulness has recently become a secular buzzword and has been accepted by mainstream psychology as an effective treatment for anxiety, depression, and addiction. And now, mindfulness has moved into the classroom with positive results. One study from the University of California showed that second and third graders who practiced mindfulness meditation for one hour a week for six to eight weeks were more attentive and could make better decisions.

For this feature article, I will examine the resources and strategies, including professional development courses, Baylis is using to bring mindfulness to Victoria classrooms, and look at how parents and educators can get involved.

I’ll also speak to Dr. Wanda Boyer, associate professor Educational Psychology and Leadership studies at the University of Victoria, about how mindfulness can impact a child’s self-regulation—their ability to manage emotional reactions in an appropriate way. I will also consult Dr. Michele Tanaka, assistant professor in Curriculum and Instruction at UVic, about the use of mindfulness in training teachers.

I am an emerging writer with a BFA in writing from UVic and have been published as a poet in This Side of West and Poetry is Dead. I regularly practise meditation as an associate member of the Zenwest Buddhist Society.