Dan Baum’s Twitter Guide to Becoming a Foreign Correspondent (Part 1)
[Ed. note: Author Dan Baum (@DanielSBaum) is currently telling his Twitter followers the story of how moving to Africa launched his journalism career. This is the first in a TFT series of his collected tweets.]
I am about to tell another long story in tweets. Some of you like that, some of you don’t.
If you don’t, please don’t complain about it; just temporarily stop following me.
But do come back tomorow, please.
This story is how Margaret and I launched our freelance journalism career by moving to Africa.
I tell this not to blather egotistically, but to suggest a path for those launching their own careers.
Although our story takes place from 1987-1989, it’s relevant today.
I still think going abroad — particularly to a place others avoid — is a way to make a name.
It’s a way to distinguish oneself from the mass of people who want to be writers.
It’s a way to call attention to oneself — by having something others don’t.
And it’s a way to do what we all got into this business for in the first place.
That is, to shine light into places the public needs to know about, but might otherwise miss.
We’ve written for most of the big magazines and also three well-reviewed non-fiction books.
Africa worked for us, but a lot of other places could fit the bill as well.
There are three criteria for choosing a good place, and I’ll get into that here.
I’ll also detail a lot of other practical steps to make what seems a hare-brained scheme plausible.
This may not seem an option for people with mortgages, children in school, and so on.
It may seem like something only a recent graduate with neither a sweetheart nor a dog could do.
But these are strange times in our business. Everything’s in flux. Writers need every break.
Houses can be rented out. Kids can be taken out of school and shown the world.
(Years after Africa, we took our five-year-old to live in a Mexican village for two years. Fabulous.)
Lives can always use a good shaking up. So even if you think yours wouldn’t allow this, read on.
You might be surprised. It’s more possible than you think.
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