BECOME AN IDEA MACHINE: HOW TO (PAINLESSLY!) BUILD UP AN INVENTORY OF STORY IDEAS TO SELL TO MAGAZINES (I may teach this class in July, interest and schedule permitting; please e-mail me at dianaburrell at gmail dot com if interested)
START DATE: September 2013 (date to be determined)
DURATION: 3 weeks
COURSE DESCRIPTION: Are you a beginning freelancer who can’t tell a good story idea from a ho-hum one? Perhaps you’re more established, but you dread pitching ideas — even when your editors ask for them. Or maybe you’ve been freelancing for so long that every idea you come up with feels tired and stale. Wherever you are in your career, this fun three-week class is for you. The first week, you’ll learn several skills that’ll ensure you’ll never lack for ideas. The following week you’ll begin to shape some of your ideas into stories that can sell. And then in the third week, you’ll learn how to target those ideas for appropriate markets. Once you’ve finished the workshop, you’ll never panic again when an editor asks, “Got any other great ideas for me?” NOTE: I offered material in this class as a workshop called “Story Ideas That Sell,” so if you’ve taken that workshop before, please read my FAQs if you’re interested in taking this as a class.
My students have gone on to sell the ideas they generated during my classes to:
*Every Day With Rachael Ray
*The New York Times (four articles from three students!)
*The Cat Magazine (UK)
Here’s what some of my students have to say:
“I consider myself a pretty successful freelancer, but I’ve always struggled with ideas–figuring out what the story is and how to frame it. It was a good week if I came up with one solid query, never mind the dozens I hear other writers talking about. I signed up for Diana’s class hoping to kick-start my idea generator, and it worked almost immediately. By the end of the first week, I had come up with 77! And before the three-week class was over, I’d sold my first story to the New York Times, thanks to Diana’s help in finding the angle. Because I’d signed up for the premium class, she and I workshopped the idea together. She raised questions I’d never have thought to address in the query, and 24 hours later the editor assigned it.
Here’s what it comes down to: Diana’s three lessons are packed with information, tips, suggestions, and questions. She’ll have you looking at things–your life, your personal history, the world around you, the world you’d like to explore–in ways you’d never come up with on your own. You’ll become one of those writers you hear about, the ones that make you jealous because it seems so effortless. The ideas are there, in your head. Diana will help you find them.” — Debbie K.
I admit that I was a skeptic. I had never taken an on-line class, and Diana’s was inexpensive and not a huge time commitment (just three weeks). A good place to start, especially if you were like me — which is to say, a doubter. Diana wasn’t just interested in helping me generate ideas; she wanted to help me sell them… and I did. What more could I ask for?
Her lessons were great — common-sense stuff that I needed about generating ideas. What was really fantastic was how each lesson served as a springboard for Diana and I to launch into my specific situation. The insights and resources she shared in the email discussions we exchanged (I took the Premium-level) during the three weeks made the class especially worthwhile. Here’s my advice: Do her assignments. Ask questions. Sell your ideas. Above all, take this class. — Mark Aiken
I’ve been a successful full-time freelancer for nearly 5 years, but coming up with clever ideas has always been the most challenging aspect of my career. This class was exactly what I needed. Not only did I generate a ton of ideas, with Diana’s help I was also able to find salable angles related those ideas. Thanks to an idea I came up with in this course, I broke into New Scientist magazine with a 2,000-word feature. That led to a radio appearance and two more feature assignments from New Scientist in short order!
The class wasn’t just about generating ideas, though. Seeing myself come up with so many possible topics really boosted my confidence and motivated me to pitch publications that I’d long had on the back burner. In the last few months, I’ve broken into three magazines that have been on my wish list for years. I highly recommend this course. It was worth every penny, and then some! — Kirsten Weir
“This is awesome! 276 ideas written down so far and today I thought of a friend who, I know, will help me generate tons more. I know this because she already gave me some ideas … PLUS the assignment you gave … is working like a charm! I’m so excited!!!” — Tracy O’Brien
ABOUT THE INSTRUCTOR: Before she became a full-time freelance writer in 1999, Diana Burrell spent over 10 years working in advertising and marketing, both on the agency and client side. The one thing she loved was coming up with ideas and concepts, whether naming a new caulking product or developing national trade show promotions. She learned how to generate vast numbers of ideas quickly, sort through them, and refine the best ideas into concepts that excited customers. This skill has served Diana well as a freelancer for magazines and newspapers such as Parenting, Kiwi, Oxygen, Cook’s Illustrated, Family Circle, Clean Eating, The Boston Globe, Psychology Today, and more. As the co-author of The Renegade Writer: A Totally Unconventional Guide to Freelance Writing Success and The Renegade Writer’s Query Letters That Rock, Diana’s no-holds-barred advice has inspired many aspiring and working freelancers. She lives in suburban Boston with her family and two cats, and occasionally teaches at local adult education programs and community colleges.
COST: Premium level (e-mail support) $149; Premium level PLUS phone mentoring (e-mail support + 3 1/2-hour telephone mentoring sessions) $299