Hey Redditors! Since graduating from Emerson I've worked for the Daily Show, co-produced a WFMU radio show and been a freelance writer for Cosmopolitan, New York Magazine, The Boston Globe, GOOD Magainze, The Huffington Post, Slate and Jezebel. I make my living entirely by freelancing and would be happy to answer questions about how to make money writing. My project 100interviews.com was named the Best Blog on Tumblr by the Village Voice in 2010. I plan on answering some of your questions in video which you can watch by following here. Ask me anything!

EDIT: here's proof

UPDATE: I'm recording some video responses which I'll post in the thread. You can also watch them below!

The Daily Show Archiving Master

Zoloft Induced Crazy Dreams

Turning Point That Led to Writing

Best (And Worst) Working From Home Habbits

Comments: 169 • Responses: 78  • Date: 

huskyhockey447 karma

If I want to start blogging where should I start? Besides writing good content, how do I build an initial audience?

gabydunn15 karma

So here's what I did: I moved to NYC and lived with my brother in a tiny apartment where I shared a room with a baby. It sucked. I got a day job and I started a blog. That blog had a clear theme and purpose -- a deadline to complete a project (something people could follow) and it was long-form journalism (what I wanted to be hired to do). For a year, I wrote on that blog every single week multiple times. (It was called 100Interviews.com if you want to look.)

At first, no one read it. But I kept posting, and showing Facebook friends and putting it on Twitter and since the blog included interviews, people who were on the blog showed their friends and their fans. It got bigger and bigger. After a year, people knew me as "the 100 Interviews girl." I had an audience. I did press for that blog everywhere. (I can't stress enough how much of a great spiderweb interviews are.)

When that blog finished, the culture editor of the New York Times Magazine emailed me to say that since the blog was done and since I clearly had a year-long resume of the writing I wanted to be hired to do, did I want to come work for him?

Do the writing you want to be doing. Do the writing you want to be paid to do. Just start doing it. Do it in your free-time. That's how I started getting paid to do it, because people knew it's what I wanted to do.

SElain2 karma

How easy/difficult was it to secure interviews with people (especially in the early days) when you didn't have the backing of a known publication? Would people become disinterested once they found out the interview would be for a blog as opposed to print?

gabydunn2 karma

Easier than you would think. I used to rely a lot on the Globe's pull to get me interviews but people really do want to talk about themselves and any blog is "press" for them so it was actually really easy to get people to talk to me. You don't have to be a bigshot. You just have to want to listen.

Macsalad117 karma

What's your brainstorm process like? Sitting around eating cheetos? Locking yourself in a room with pen and paper? Coffee with friends? Divine intervention?

gabydunn3 karma

I answered in a video! My hair is not behaving today! Gross!

coolchica124 karma

Is it easier to write comedy or perform comedy?

gabydunn5 karma

Depends. I did sketch comedy in college, stand up for 2 years after, and now I do improv every week on a house team at the People's Improv Theater. I think writing comedy is a lot harder than people think, especially coming up with new jokes for stand up which takes time, sitting down, writing things out, practicing. People think stand ups just get up and are funny, but it's so much work and yes, writing. I've had a lot more fun writing comedy scripts, because there's less pressure on me to perform -- I get to "give" jokes to people who are funnier performers than I am and trust they'll land. But I love improv specifically because there's no writing involved. Whatever I'm thinking, off the top of my head, first thing, that's the "right" thing, which is nice for someone who is constantly editing and overthinking.

doctorhans4 karma

Since, as a freelancer, you don't have to be physically accountable for showing up anywhere (or maybe you do?), what have you found to be your most helpful self-scheduling/motivational habits for dealing with deadlines?

gabydunn4 karma

Well, I'm a crazy person who works all the time to fill some deep emotional void left by probably, my alcoholic father. So you could try that? ;)

No, for real: I keep a paper agenda and I write down everything I need to do and I don't stop until I cross them all off. I make sure to space things out so I know I have an hour to work on this and then an hour to work on that. And that this is due Friday, but the next thing isn't due until Monday so I have the weekend. (One thing about freelancing is you don't have 9-5 hours ever. You work when you need to work which can be more than 40 hours a week sometimes.) I also know when to say "no" to things, though it is hard because I tend to want to do everything. But I have to prioritize what's most important. Sure, I want to do that fun post for TC, but I need to shelve it and work on a bigger thing or I need to tell that smaller blog I can't do my column this week because I got a magazine gig. Or miss a party because I need to work on a Saturday night. (Fun, fun.)

jackshepardlives3 karma

Hey Gabbbbster! ( it's cool I call you Gabster , right?) My gf absolutely adores you (TC,JEZ, HUFFPO) and it would make her world if you would say hello! Her name is Tanya.... =D <--- not a penis, rather a super smile.

I have a question myself. What was the turning point in your life that led you to your passion of writing? If that moment never happened ...where would you be?

thanks!

gabydunn5 karma

Video coming, Tanya! (The name "Tanya" reminds me of the Kids in the Hall secretaries sketch, btw.) EDIT: Here's the video!

coolchica123 karma

do you change your writing style when working for different publications - like being more free spirited with thought catalog and more girly for cosmo?

gabydunn5 karma

I don't necessarily change my style in the sense that I always write a certain way and always use certain references or turns of phrase that I like and that are indicative of me. However, I think (and this goes for pitching too) it's very important to understand the tone and style of the publication you're writing for. Very important. You could pitch an amazing story to Cosmo but if it's about a football star, let's say, they're not going to want it. I struggled with that for a while, because I was getting rejected a lot and I thought it meant I was a bad writer, but it was really that I wasn't understanding the places I wanted to write for. READ THE PUBLICATION YOU'RE PITCHING TO BEFOREHAND. I can't stress that enough. Know what kinds of stories they've done or like to do. So my style changes, a bit yeah, based on where I'm writing. But only because publications have styles and you have to know what they and their audience likes.

booklover953 karma

Do you find the literary world to reflect other industries in that men are given preferential treatment?

gabydunn4 karma

I've never really took the time to worry about that. And now, thinking about the recent publications I've LOVED in the last few years, they've all been by women writers. I think women writers are KILLIN' it right now in literature.

gabydunn4 karma

And I think women want to read other women and buy books, which no one does anymore so hooray!

sick_pig3 karma

Do you get paid by the size of "paper" you write or is it just by hour? Do you actually live in New York or do you write from home and just mail them in?

gabydunn4 karma

I live in New York, but I don't have to. I write from home and email everything in. Though when meeting editors in person, which helps with getting jobs, or freelancing for NY based publications it helps to be here in the city. But you can really freelance from anywhere. Don't let not being in NY discourage you.

I get paid by the word for magazines, by the hour for Thought Catalog, and per piece for most other blogs. Though, as you write more and more, you can demand more money or sometimes they'll ask how you prefer to be paid - by the hour, by the piece, by the word. And then it's important not to undervalue yourself.

Frajer3 karma

Is there any security with freelancing or can you wake up any day with no work theoretically?

gabydunn4 karma

No security unless you make it. I set up jobs for myself way in advance so I'm always working on something. Or I pitch columns so I have things to turn in every week and I know I'll at least have that one steady paycheck.

SargentSinger3 karma

When it comes to pitching ideas to websites would it be best to wait until I have an email introduction with an editor or should I pitch blind, not knowing anyone?

gabydunn6 karma

Email introduction! I've never gotten anything pitching blind. I think I have freelancing friends who have, but it's never worked for me, ever. I'd always do an email introduction first, with specifics. Maybe you share an alma mater, or you really liked the last thing they worked on. And for me, it really helped to have my own blog where I interviewed people and wrote about them so, for example, a great way to meet editors is to say, "Can I interview you for my blog?" and then just ask them everything you want to know, and get to know them. Or just ask if you can take them for coffee, if you're in the same city. No one hates free coffee. But pitching blind seems like a waste of time to me.

ediddy333 karma

Thanks for doing this AMA. What's the best publication you've worked for and why?

gabydunn5 karma

I still work for them! If I pick a favorite, I could get fired! The Times Magazine pays the most so I love them.

Ilovebobbysinger3 karma

How can I make money by writing? :)

gabydunn4 karma

Do not undervalue yourself. Do not write for free for too long without demanding pay. Even $20 a post. Exposure is good, but also find places, smaller maybe less "prestigious" places that will pay you. Clips are clips, if you're good and you're gonna need both money and clips to move to the next level. Keep striving upward. And don't be afraid to ask for more money. (I always am, but I have to swallow it and just ask.)

Ilovebobbysinger2 karma

Thanks.

You mentioned you are writing a book -- self pub or trad?

gabydunn3 karma

Trad! (Oooh, ahhh)

Ilovebobbysinger2 karma

Nice! Thoughts on self-publishing?

gabydunn3 karma

Big fan. Like when good stuff can get through red tape and to the people.

SaturatedPhats2 karma

I've been a regular contributor for TC for half a year, giving them tons of free content. It's given me great exposure and opened up other avenues, but how long should I wait to demand pay (you can direct message me if you so please)?

gabydunn3 karma

Ooh, email me [email protected] I can talk to you there. ~Secrets~

CowsGoM003 karma

What was it like working on the Daily Show?

freecbreezy3 karma

To bounce off that question, what did you take from interning at the Daily Show? How did you land the internship?

gabydunn6 karma

I answer what it's like in a video thing coming soon, but as for landing the job -- I applied my junior year of college to the Viacom internship pool at VH1. Since Comedy Central is owned by Viacom, they didn't have a spot for me but they gave my resume to TDS. (I thought they were BSing me but they really did.) I interviewed with a bunch of people and then I got it.

I think honestly what got me the internship is that my cover letter was bananas. It was all jokes. I wrote about Zac Efron and my love of Nick at Nite and like, it was just the weirdest, most "me" cover letter. I really, to this day, think it was that risk that got me pulled from the slush pile.

Edit: I'm also OBSESSED with TDS and had published an article in high school in a "Best High School Writing" anthology about how I wanted be Jon Stewart, which I spent the whole internship worrying someone would find and show everyone. :(

Willb3tray4food3 karma

How many writing jobs have you had, and which was your favorite?

gabydunn9 karma

A zillion. In college, for two years, I was a nighttime crime reporter at the Boston Globe, through a coop program at my college. I went to school during the day and worked at the newsdesk from 6 pm to 2 am. They gave me a car and a police radio and I went out every night and covered fires, shootings, other various crime. It was an invaluable experience, even as it probably messed me up in the head for a while. I mean, I was 19 and looking at brains on the sidewalk and banging on the doors of family members to get comment. I basically never slept, but I learned so much about daily journalism. While it was going on, I felt crazy but now, looking back, it's my favorite. I'll never have that again, I don't think.

Willb3tray4food3 karma

Sounds intense, was it hard to adjust to it or we're you prepared for it?

gabydunn3 karma

No way I could have been prepared.

Willb3tray4food2 karma

Sounds like quite the experience! How did you get that job in the first place?

gabydunn3 karma

Emerson has a coop program you can apply for through the school!

Willb3tray4food2 karma

Cool! Any good stories from your time doing the co-op?

gabydunn3 karma

A million. May go in a book one day. (A fiction book.)

AlexS1012 karma

Since you’re a writer, I have to ask: Is the title proper grammar?

gabydunn3 karma

I didn't write it! And no!

AlexS1011 karma

So who wrote it then?

gabydunn1 karma

A ghost! (#waywire asked me to do this AMA so they set up everything and I just came here and typed, typed, typed!)

freecbreezy2 karma

How did you get involved with Slate?

gabydunn2 karma

I got in through doing book reviews for Dan Kois. Book reviews are a good way to start at a publication because it's hard to screw those up.

SargentSinger2 karma

What are some of your favorite pieces you have written?

gabydunn2 karma

http://tomorrowthemag.com/articles/one-click-at-a-time

http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2009/01/03/cash_for_the_memories/

In terms of journalism ^

I don't really read back things that were published because it makes me anxious for how I could have done better, but those two make me proud.

gabydunn2 karma

Ooh, if you're interested in some Emerson controversy, you should read my Beacon stories from when I was in college. That's a whole 'nother tale: http://gabrielledunn.wordpress.com/portfolio/

notrobbiegoodwin2 karma

Who was the funniest member of Chocolate Cake City during your time there?

Edit: And why was it Robbie Goodwin?

gabydunn2 karma

ROBBIE GOODWIN. Jk. It was Chaz Formichella.

IronLunchBox2 karma

Are there any websites you use to find freelance gigs or do you just contact the magazine and ask?

gabydunn2 karma

See below!

coolchica122 karma

what inspired the 100interviews project?

gabydunn3 karma

Frustration. I wanted to be doing long-form journalism and couldn't get hired to do it so I decided to do it anyway in my free time, and then it led to all this!

gabydunn3 karma

And Studs Terkel and AJ Jacobs (who is a doll and a lovely human being).

derockzoolander2 karma

are internet comments the worst thing ever? how do you deal with anonymous assholes saying mean things?

gabydunn2 karma

They are the worst! I used to cry all the time. I'd just spend hours crying over mean comments. Now I don't care anymore. It's been beaten out of me. It helps if I think of them as wisps of air rather than actual people. I don't know. Some people, even people who claim to be fans of mine can be really...bizarre and rude. But they don't know me, and it's a waste of time to cry so much about it.

freecbreezy2 karma

What was your major in college? If it was journalism, what was your j-school program like? I'm in j-school now and the general consensus is that it's pretty useless, and it's what you do outside of school that matters so I'm curious as to your take on that. If it wasn't journalism, do you think you would have benefitted from being in j-school? Or do you think your major helped you just fine to get where you are?

gabydunn4 karma

I went to J-school. For print. It was like majoring in the Titanic -- everyone was super sad about the state of things. It was a bummer because I came in all Woodward and Bernstein ready to do this thang.

The most valuable part of J-school to me wasn't classes, it was working on the newspaper. Actual, hands-on, practical experience is WORLDS better than any class. In fact, getting a journalism job or internship would teach you more than a journalism class ever could. I'm grateful I majored in journalism because it led to me working at the newspaper, which was invaluable but I think it's not a bad idea to major in what you want to write about (science, film) and then just getting a journalism internship/job during school or post-grad.

gabydunn2 karma

And the newspaper will teach you ethics and AP style too, which is basically all you need.

Alandi922 karma

How do you break onto the publishing/freelancing scene? It seems extremely intimidating

gabydunn2 karma

See above!

thejennerateur2 karma

how do you get inspired for your thought catalog articles?

gabydunn3 karma

Video coming about that!

tjh4182 karma

Favorite writing gig you've ever had? Worst?

gabydunn3 karma

Boston Globe (I said above). I can't say worst because maybe those people pay my bills.

SharfWeek2 karma

Thanks for the AMA! What advice do you have for promoting a comedic digital short series? What channels attract the most quality, comedy loving viewers?

AND, whats your favorite mic to do in the city? ps I hung out with Fleet last night

gabydunn3 karma

What's the series about? You could do Buzzfeed, TC, Splitsider, Laughspin, The Comic's Comic, et al. I tend to find that targeting a niche audience is best. For instance, the web series It Gets Betterish, about two gay guys, is hilarious and it got a lot of press on AfterElton, Queerty, Towleroad (gay blogs). Find the niche media for your show's audience and go hard at it.

I love the PIT's mics. (WHO ARE YOU? How do you know Fleet?)

novastealth2 karma

You've worked with pretty diverse publications. Was there a common way that you got started with each of them? Or was it a combination of networking, recommendations, cold pitches and being assigned items?

What would you recommend for writers looking to branch out their client list?

gabydunn2 karma

Networking, recs, being nice to people, giving people something in return. For instance, I wrote about this editor's boyfriend's book and then I worked with her on a story I wrote for the magazine she works for. It's all incestuous. I never cold pitch, really. I don't find it works for me -- maybe I come off badly in cold pitches, I don't know. I usually have to meet people in person before they're like, "Oh this girl seems cool."

bedsweaters2 karma

I am a huge fan of yours. I'm a 20 year old girl who wants to write either freelance work or be a professional blogger or something (which sounds horrible) and I was just wondering how you got really "set up"? Obviously, the quality of your writing was a major determining factor, but is there anything else you were able to do as far as getting your foot in the door?

I can't wait to see everything you accomplish. Your sense of humor is great. Thanks for doing this.

gabydunn5 karma

Hey! Thank you!

Determination and thick skin are important. Do not get discouraged by rejection. Every single writer, even the best ones, get rejected. It does not mean you are not cut out for this. It means that specific publication didn't like that specific idea. It's not personal (I used to really take it personally and it's so not).

I pitch, let's say, the NY Times 15 article ideas. I get to write one. That one is enough for people to go, "Wow! She wrote for the Times!" But if I got discouraged by how my editor hated 14 ideas before that, I'd never have gotten that one.

ohsam1222 karma

I'm trying to build a writing portfolio to hopefully gain some freelance work. Are there certain platforms or themes that are more eye-catching than others?

gabydunn3 karma

Write about what you want to be writing about. People are always saying, "Oh I want to write longform journalism, but here are some short top 10 blog posts." I go by the motto, "Do what you want to be doing already." If people see you already doing the thing you want to be doing, they will bring you on to do that thing. (Am I making sense?) If you want to be writing for Scientific American, write science pieces on your blog or for other smaller science-based publications. You only need to catch the eye of the places that write about what you're already into writing about.

You have to start small, but there are niche blogs that will pay $20 a post for legit every topic you could be into writing about.

gabydunn2 karma

Platform, in terms of reach or "prestige," only matters if it matches to the larger goal of topics and types of writing you want to be doing.

crayon_eater1 karma

My area of study is political print journalism. I guess it goes without saying that the Daily Show is frequently a part of our case studies. My ultimate dream is to end up covering politics with the NYT or the Washington Post or any other serious news agency.

Throughout my schooling, all I have heard is that print journalism is dying. Regular people going around with their cameras trying to be novice citizen journalists while I am spending four years, or more, in school trying to perfect this "art".

As an industry professional do you really believe that print will die so anti-climatically?

What would suggest to an aspiring print journalist?

gabydunn2 karma

Don't be so upset about transitioning to blogs. It's sad but I don't think print will die, I think it will transform, but if you stand your ground and apply the same ethics, blogging can require the same skills. Yes, people are "citizen journalists" but quality will always be appreciated. Don't think of it as dying -- be adaptable.

gabydunn2 karma

And have ethics! Just because it's the internet doesn't mean you lose your journalism ethics.

StoveMartin1 karma

What is the best advice you can give to aspiring journalists? What are some ways to gain experience as a journalist while in college?

gabydunn2 karma

Start freelancing while in college. It is not too soon. Build a kick-ass resume of clips from outside classes or your college paper. (Though those are good too.) Get real world experience. You're not too young.

gabydunn2 karma

I say that because every grad has clips from college or classes, but not every job applicant is 22 with clips from the Boston Globe or Huff Po or whatever else freelancing nets you.

perrybirbrager1 karma

What a blast from the past! Crazy to think that I would be reading an AMA about someone I personally used to know!

Have you ever considered making a documentary about your experiences working with 100 interviews?

gabydunn1 karma

Oh hey! I would but I think it would take too much time to retread old ground. When I finished it, it was so much work that I just wanted to be DONE.

StoveMartin1 karma

Do you notice a difference in your style of writing for print vs. writing online?

gabydunn2 karma

Yes. Online is much more informal, and I think I feel safer because I can always go back and delete. Print seems more permanent and important.

revzblove1 karma

As a fellow freelance writer, what tips do you have on work enviornment. I know it's different for everyone, but what is your daily/weekly schedule for writing and actually getting things done. So many people say they "write from home," and then end up going back to waiting tables because they dont have the drive to actually work from home. I personally bounce between multiple places in a day just to re-energize myself through a change of scenery. Sometimes it's the park, or a pub or a coffee shop but I try to vary it every day and week so that i'm not stagnating. Thoughts? Edit: also limits. I can write 50k words a day, but only for so long. What do you limit yourself to just in the sake of sanity and having a life aside from typing?

gabydunn2 karma

Video coming! EDIT: Here's the video!

IAmNearl1 karma

Fellow Emersonian here! How was working for the daily show, and how do you go about getting the Job?

gabydunn1 karma

Answered! And Emerson can help you. Comedy Central loves Emerson and Doug Herzog is an alum. Get in there.

StoveMartin1 karma

How has being a woman shaped your career as a journalist?

gabydunn3 karma

I'm not sure. I don't know what it would be like if I was a man. Though when I worked in crime reporting, I was the first girl to get the job in a bit because they worried about women working at night. But in the end, there were ups and downs to it. I never felt in danger, and sometimes the cops will underestimate you or give you info they think you won't know what to do with because you're a woman and you can play dumb and get better stories. :)

futureenigma1 karma

GABY I LOVE YOU. I just wanted to say that I've been following you on thought catalog for a while now and you're by far my favorite writer on the site. Your personal stories about depression and other mental health issues really spoke to me and I just absolutely love you aaargh I am bad at articulating myself. Okay uhhh question who is your FAVORITE Parks & Rec character and why?

gabydunn2 karma

Oh, I'm so glad. I feel weird sometimes sharing so much about my health but I like if it helps people.

OH MAN. Donna? April? Ben?

futureenigma1 karma

It is LITERALLY impossible to pick just one. I've tried and I just can't. For me it's a toss up between Jean Ralphio, Ron, and Donna.

gabydunn3 karma

Ron has started to become attractive to me, which I think says a lot about what I'm into now as I get older.

impossiblesoul1 karma

How do you work for a place like Thought Catalog? Is Chelsea Fagan as insufferable as her articles read?

gabydunn2 karma

Chelsea is great! I went and saw her in Paris this summer and we had a good, drunk time. I like having her around because we don't always agree on stuff and it's nice to have a foil to keep me in check, and vice versa.

gabydunn2 karma

Something I've told her is "Sometimes I don't even know how I feel about an issue until I fight with Chelsea about it."

molrobocop1 karma

Cosmo huh? Please don't say you wrote the sex-advice column.

gabydunn4 karma

I would have nothing to add of value for that audience. Too weird.

caelivacui1 karma

Gaby- first off, I am a great fan of your work on TC (long time reader) and was excited to see you on the schedule for an AMA.
I am an English major and constantly trying to decide between getting an MA in Literature to teach, or getting an MFA in Creative Writing and try to pursue a writing career (maybe alongside teaching writing in universities). What path did you take to get where you are, and what do you see as a successful path for your other peers that are writers? Thanks so much, Gaby!

gabydunn3 karma

And instead hang with Lit blowhards! :)

gabydunn3 karma

I don't see how either could hurt. I am jealous of people who studied Literature though because I feel like they are more "knowledgeable" in the sense that it's important to know the classics and the past and the techniques and such before you start writing. I feel inadequate in that regard, and insecure about my knowledge of classic lit. I'd say Lit. Just because you can write, teach and avoid workshops where blowhards think they're the next Hemingway or Hunter S.

CleverWit1 karma

Do you need a degree or previous publication to be hired to write an article? I've always wondered how to get people to give you the time of day without college or a reputation.

Forgive my lack of enthusiasm, I'm really interested, but I'm at work so I'm naturally feeling like Eyore from Winnie The Pooh.

gabydunn2 karma

I answer that a bit above when I say to write for places you love. You don't need a degree or rep. You need to show you REALLY enjoy what that blog covers and you can add to their content in a unique way.

Don't be sad! Pin your tail back on!

Shalmaneser1 karma

Is there even any point in people who want to be writers wanting to be writers? I ask this as a commissioning editor who has to try not to dash the hopes of hundreds of student writers, all of whom want to be journalists, none of whom will. They'll all just produce crappy articles for free exposure, forever.

gabydunn2 karma

That whole free/exposure thing is a bummer I hope can be steered away from soon. But I feel you. There's still journalism out there. It's just no longer in the forms we're used to. People will always be writers if they want to be writers.

NinjaDiscoJesus1 karma

how much money do you make?

gabydunn4 karma

Different all the time. Thought Catalog pays by the hour so if I work more, I make more. Some places, if I write more for them, and then turn in my invoice with a bunch of stuff, I'll make more. Writing for magazines is the most lucrative. If I get a couple magazine pieces in, I'm good for like 3 months. But I do live sort of paycheck-to-paycheck, depending on how much I'm working, and there is some element of luck, which is frightening.

freecbreezy1 karma

What's the process like for choosing Thought Catalog articles? What sort of stuff can a TC fangirl like me do to get your and the other editor's attention? (Not to suck up but would also like to say thanks for all the inspiration! Writer/journalist/comedienne has been my objective since high school so it's so lovely and encouraging to see another woman doing well for herself in those fields!)

gabydunn4 karma

Ha! I'd say start easy. You know the kind of things TC likes -- lists, relatable content, 90s kids, you know the greatest hits etc -- so pitch that first. Then, once you're in, start pitching stuff you actually want to write about. You gotta make it easy for us to be like, "Yes. This totally reads like a TC article." Once we like you, we'll be more inclined to say, "Okay this is a totally freecbreezy piece. We like her personality. Let's see how this does."

jazzedloon1 karma

The thing that scares me about freelance writing is the lack of assignments. How DO you pitch, continuously coming up with ideas for various publications and keeping your ideas fresh? Where did you get your inspiration from? (Also, do you ever get assigned anything?)

gabydunn2 karma

I get assigned stuff once I've written for a place already. I've found magazine editors are cool with parsing stuff out with me, which has been nice. So I come to them with a kernel of an idea and they expand on it or suggest things. Sometimes I take them for coffee and we brainstorm what they're looking for for their publication.

I read a lot, so I make sure my ideas are not the same as other people's ideas. I look for new stuff. There's a video coming about where I get ideas. Stay tuned.

radiokungfu1 karma

How did you get to intern with the Daily Show?

gabydunn2 karma

Answered!

booklover951 karma

do you have aspirations to write a book?

gabydunn5 karma

I do! I am writing one now. Shhhhh.

coolshirthansel1 karma

did you go to school for writing?

i feel like a lot of people move to a city and try to write for a living and somehow land a book deal where they write a memoir about their lives... when really it seems like an unrealistic lifestyle.

gabydunn2 karma

I went to school for journalism because I thought it would be more lucrative than "creative writing."

Those books are boring. Don't let that get to you.

Rob_Saget1 karma

First and foremost, thank you so much for doing this AMA!

  • I'm currently in school majoring in broadcasting and journalism and I graduate in 2 months. I've been job searching and with no luck. I'm terrified I will not have a career as a broadcaster or journalist. How did you start off as a journalist? What is the best way to get noticed by bigger name news organizations?

  • What is the most frustrating part of your job?

  • What do you enjoy most about being a journalist?

  • And of course, what story that you've worked on are you most proud of?

There is plenty more I could ask you but these will suffice. Thank you for your time and look forward to your responses!

gabydunn2 karma

Go to the first answer I did and you'll see what I did after graduation. Maybe it'll help you?

  • Not having consistent money and having to convince people that my ideas are good. I wish I could just be like, trust me let me write this story it will be amazing. But you have to sell an editor on the idea before you can get started even if you're very excited to write it.

  • Meeting people, connecting to readers who say a story helped them

  • I linked two above that I liked, but I wrote so many every day for the Globe that it's hard to remember.

writerVagabond1 karma

First of all, congratulations! I really enjoy writing and hope to be able to make a living out of it someday, so I really admire people like you!

As all my questions about writing are now answered, I wanted to ask you about your reading habits, what are your favourite books? do you prefer fiction or non-fiction? And maybe recommend us readers a good book?

gabydunn6 karma

I read everything. I used to only read non-fiction for a while because I was a snob and an asshole, but now I see the benefits and beauty of fiction -- mostly because I read all the Rabbit books by John Updike and was just blown away. That guy's good. (Understatement of the century.)

Recs: In Cold Blood by Truman Capote (love love love forever) The Rabbit series by John Updike Random Family by Adrian Nicole LeBlanc

And for journalists, I love the Warren Ellis series TransMetropolitan. It's a graphic novel about a crazy Hunter S. inspired journalist in the future. I am obsessed.

impossiblesoul1 karma

I pretty much exclusively read fiction. You should check out Virginia Woolf!

gabydunn2 karma

Room of One's Own!

alxumdililah1 karma

Is Nick Denton as tyrannical to work for as indicated by the high turnover of folks from Gawker media and did people confuse you for the other "Gaby" in Denton's life?

gabydunn3 karma

I don't know him!

alxumdililah1 karma

Writer's Proust Questionnaire of What You Prefer?

Heart or Conde Nast // Time Inc or Meredith// MTV or VH1// PC or Mac// Facebook or Twitter// Moleskin or Evernote// By the Word or By the Article// NYTimes or Wall Street Journal// Reuters or Associated Press// Al Jazeera or Russia Today// Gawker or Perez Hilton// Hollywood Reporter or Nikki Finke// Today Show or Good Morning America// Kimmel or Fallon//

gabydunn2 karma

Hearst. Time. Tough call. Mac. Twitter. Moleskin. By the worddddd, gimme dat $$$ NYT AP AJ Gawker THR Today Show Tough call. I was a Fallon fangirl in my day, but Kimmel does great sketches.

TheOneWhoKnocks31 karma

How does the Daily Show have such an amazing Archive? I mean any time they have some random Congressman say something they have video of a CSPAN video from like 1999 of him saying the opposite, how do they get that 1999 video always?

gabydunn3 karma

Thank you for your question! Here's a fun story about that...

predmach1 karma

Hey Gaby, thanks for doing this AMA. I am hoping to have a future in writing novels (fiction) in the future, but I'm not really sure where to begin. If I wanted to get myself out there by writing smaller fictional pieces (horror, suspense, sci-fi genres, etc.) how would you suggest I get started?

gabydunn3 karma

Write for lit journals. There are SO many of them. Every college has a lit journal, there's probably 500 thousand in Brooklyn alone. I don't know much about fiction but there's gotta be sci-fi journals out there that eat those kinds of pieces up. Find them! They are your people!

Shai-HuIud1 karma

No questions, just wanted to say the following:

Your internship at TDS is more impressive than the rest of your resumé.

gabydunn4 karma

More than the Times?! Haha, the Times is crying right now.

sphinxsrat1 karma

How difficult is it to get published by Thought Catalog?

gabydunn1 karma

We get a lot of submissions. A LOT. But if you really know the site, you can catch our eye. I mentioned above what we look for.

Nkliph1 karma

Hi! What is the single best source for finding freelance writing jobs to build experience?

gabydunn3 karma

But if you must, I find good stuff on mediabistro.

gabydunn3 karma

Publications you already love and read. I spent so long trying to send pitches to publications I didn't even like because I thought that's what I "had" to do or because they were the "right" places to make me seem prestigious or cool. Those publications sucked, and they were never going to accept pitches from me because I wasn't part of their target audience. If I didn't even like their content, why would I try and contribute to that content? Experience comes from writing every day -- Thought Catalog has been a particular good muscle stretch for me because I have to write 2-3 posts every morning. Don't try to fit in with the cool kids. If you like a tiny blog about video games, write for that tiny blog you love. The more familiar you are with the content, and the more it speaks to you, the more your writing will fit there and you'll be what they're looking for for freelancers.

weezjam37-1 karma

no fun gaby dunn

gabydunn3 karma

That's mah name.