Freelance Writing in Singapore and Beyond

by Tricia Chan Shan Min, Victoria Junior College

Melanie Lee has been freelance writing for 17 years and her 17 years of journeying hasn’t all  been smooth sailing.

In the past, Ms Lee had to call her editors and painstakingly hand write all her hard copies to her editors. This was just to express her ideas and samples to them. However, she owes her resilience to one principle she lives by: having to hustle, even though that wasn’t her way.

Through her freelance writing, she had learnt how to put herself out there and how to take initiative to do so. She wanted to tell the stories she wanted to tell but to also cope financially, balancing freelance writing on the side amongst her other jobs.

She had started with editorial writing for print and web and then moved on to working in editorial writing for museums, book editing (heritage and architecture), has written books, made a historical documentary, and taught writing at tertiary institutions. With a wide smile on her face, Ms Lee declared her interest and passion in history and that this passion drove her to take up these jobs.

When asked if freelance writing had changed her, Ms Lee said that it did. The Freelance writing industry is changing with the rapid development in technology and she found that she had to write less in order to capture people’s short attention spans before losing it completely. More multitasking was also required in this day and age, needing to strike a balance between enjoyable work and earning money to keep afloat.

As for activities that budding writers could partake in to improve their writings, Ms Lee commented that she “believes in writing for fun”. She urged the participants to write fun, short stories during their free time and allocate time to write for fun.

With a shift in paradigm, one can actually see that freelance writing is a form of storytelling and writers need to be passionate about telling that story through words and to express it in their own personal unique way.