Robin L. Flanigan launched a writing career in the early ‘90s while living in a Baltimore graveyard. She worked in newsrooms for eleven years, winning several national awards, and as a staffer with the Democrat and Chronicle received the Dean Gysel award for best newsroom writer as judged by outside editors. In 2005, she became a full-time freelance writer for magazines, newspapers, websites, and marketing collateral. Her essays have appeared in The Sun, Motherwell, Talking Writing, and several other literary magazines, as well as two anthologies.
WHAT LED YOU TO START WORKING IN DIGITAL/MEDIA PUBLISHING?
I never wanted to be anything other than a writer. I worked my way up the old-school way—writing for free to get a byline, then pitching ideas to other publications once I had clips, then working the front desk at a weekly tabloid. Within six months I was acting editor. A year later I landed a job as a reporter at a daily newspaper, the first of three in different states. Now that I’m a freelancer, I tend to write for publications that have both a print and online presence.
WHAT DOES A TYPICAL DAY LOOK LIKE FOR YOU?
I get up around 5 a.m. to work on my creative writing (an essay or manuscript), before my daughter wakes up for school. My workday starts around 8:30 or 9 a.m. Depending on the day and deadlines, I either write and interview sources until late afternoon—usually at home, but sometimes at a cafe—or I work in fits and starts between errands and chores. I check my Twitter feed several times a day, and post a few things then. I am on LinkedIn but use it mostly to find people to interview for a business column I write. I never stop writing, actually. I make lists for future projects, journal when the mood hits, and make progress on my off-the-clock pursuits at all hours—a few sentences at a time.
WHAT’S YOUR WORK SETUP LOOK LIKE?
I’m a simple gal. A MacBook Air, a clutter-free environment, and a drink (water or tea).
WHAT DO YOU DO OR GO TO GET INSPIRED?
I always read first to produce my best writing. There’s something about being drawn into the rhythm of a favorite writer to get my own juices flowing. Sometimes it’s a poem, sometimes it’s an essay, sometimes it’s a couple paragraphs of a novel. I also love to hike and work out at the gym, both of which feed my stamina for early morning writing marathons.
WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE PIECE OF WRITING OR QUOTE?
“One day I will find the right words, and they will be simple.” — Jack Kerouac.
WHAT IS THE PASSIONATE PROBLEM YOU ARE TACKLING AT THE MOMENT?
I’ve started work on a second manuscript, and I’m collecting so many notes so quickly that I’m at risk of finding myself in an organizational nightmare. I’m thinking I should break apart the notes into themes, and stop thinking about structure for now. I need to identify as a vehement note-taker!
Is there a product, solution, or tool that you think is a good match for your digital publishing efforts?
Even though this might not be the most efficient way of doing things, I write in Pages and export to Word before submitting work to clients.
ANY ADVICE FOR AMBITIOUS DIGITAL PUBLISHING AND MEDIA PROFESSIONALS JUST STARTING OUT?
Network like crazy. Never underestimate the power of a professional connection. Go to conferences. Follow interesting people in the industry on Twitter.