• Gina G. Scala

Unmasking the Mystery of Our Freelance Writing Process

Have you seen the movie Spotlight? If you haven’t, stop whatever you’re doing it and rent it. I am not a big fan of movie reviews, Hollywood awards chatter or anyone telling me what I MUST see…so I had no idea what to expect when I rented Spotlight recently. It was exceptional for so many reasons. Away from the story itself, what I took was a longing that perhaps others understood more about the process of writing.

It sounds selfish, I am sure, in contrast to what the movie was about. And I don’t mean it to be controversial or self-centered. As a former news reporter and editor, I thoroughly enjoyed seeing the process again. And this time it wasn’t glamorized. It was raw, real.

Typically, when people find out I am a writer one of these two conversations occur:

  1. Cool; where are you published? Too many places to name and a lot it is ghostwriting.

  2. Oh, so you, like, just sit in front of a computer and, like, write words. Uh, it’s a little more complicated than that. But essentially, yes.

In honor of Spotlight’s Oscar win, I decided to dedicate this week’s blog to one of my most frequently asked questions - how does it work?

Information Gathering

My questions are intentionally vague to get you talking. When you’re speaking, I’m listening; intently. And sometimes, it’s not what you say but what you don’t say that sticks with me the most. Writing for someone else is a lot different than writing for myself. While the approach maybe the same once I sit down, how I gather the information varies greatly depending on the client. It may feel like just a conversation to you, but I am already getting a feel for what I am going to write – regardless of how many notes I take.

The 5Ws

Who, what, when, where and why.

I am interested in the ins and outs of your business, but I am more fascinated in what makes you different than your competition. THAT has more to do with why you choose to do what you do; why you stick with it and how you approach your work. Telling me that story is more helpful than something I can learn by doing my own research. And I am going to do my own research. It’s one of my favorite things about what I do.

If I don’t use some of the information you’ve shared or we’ve discussed, it doesn’t mean I won’t. It just means I don’t think it’s right for what we’re doing right now for that target audience you want to appeal. Sometimes, it takes scraping the first draft for you to understand what you really want. There is no shame in it. And no, I will not take it personally. No one here does. It’s part of the collaboration process and something we understand well at Tabula Rasa – White Paper, Red Pen LLC.


Depending on the vehicle, the audience and the content, this can be the longest part of the writing process. Or if you’re me, regardless of those things. Curiosity killed the cat, right? Well, if I were a cat my nine lives would be here and gone quickly.

What happens next?

I’ll transform the information you’ve provided and the research into the written word; whether it’s for a blog post, a social media profile, a business report or a custom storybook. That’s when the real fun begins…for you. I’ve been having fun for nearly a quarter of a century.