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Notebook & Pad


A 3-week e-course for magazine writers that shows you how to generate and develop the clever article ideas editors crave.

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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 freelance writing career, this fun three-week class is for you. Yes, fun! The first week, you’ll learn skills that’ll ensure you’ll never lack for ideas again. During the second week we'll work together getting your ideas into shape for a pitch. Yes, I said work. Rarely do perfectly formed article ideas spring from a writer's imagination! And then in the third week, you’ll learn how to target those article ideas for the right markets. You can have a fantastic travel story and write like Hemingway, but great writing skills aren't enough in this business. You've got to properly target your work.   


Once you’ve finished this class, you'll be faced with a new problem—how to find time to pitch all the great ideas you see around you. 

My students have gone on to sell the ideas and stories they developed in this class to publications like:


  • Parenting

  • Every Day With Rachael Ray

  • The Boston Globe 

  • The Washington Post

  • The Vancouver Sun

  • The San Francisco Chronicle

  • The New York Times 

  • Yankee

  • Woman’s Day

  • Discover Magazine

  • Saveur

  • Success

  • New Scientist...and more!

Home: Welcome


Diana Burrell, Journalist & Author

Before I became a full-time freelance writer in 1999, I spent over ten years working in consumer advertising, marketing, and promotions after graduating from college. What I loved best about these jobs was generating ideas and concepts...everything from naming a new caulking product to developing national trade show promotions. I learned how to generate vast numbers of ideas quickly, sort through them, and refine the best of the bunch into concepts that attracted and excited customers.


This skill served me well when I started freelancing for magazines and newspapers such as ParentingKiwiOxygenCook’s IllustratedFamily Circle, Writer's Digest, The WriterClean EatingThe Boston GlobePsychology Today, and more.


In 2016, I co-founded Renegade Writer Press, which has given me a new outlet for developing the dozens of book projects I've plotted out over the years. With my co-author Linda Formichelli, we write and publish books such as The Renegade Writer: A Totally Unconventional Guide to Freelance Writing Success and From Pitch to Published: How to Sell Your Story Ideas to Magazines, along with many others, either together or individually.


For almost ten years, my no-holds-barred advice and supportive teaching style have inspired hundreds of aspiring and working freelancers to go for their publishing goals. I live in suburban Boston with my husband, son, and a naughty but lovable ginger cat named Winston. When I'm not teaching or writing, I knit obsessively, sew most of my own clothes, travel (next up: Denmark/Iceland), bike and hike, drink coffee, and keep my brain humming by learning new stuff, like elementary German and math I should have learned in high school.

Home: About

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 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'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

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