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Correspondent’s

This week by freelance journalist Andrew MoodyFirst thing Monday, I spend time going over the Sunday papers. I see I have got an article in the Mail on Sunday financial section. Most journalists do not like reading their articles in print since any mistakes might ruin their day so tasks such as this are often delayed but all seems well.

I have been a freelance for national newspapers and magazines for nearly 12 years (before that I worked both as a staff City and political journalist). I tend to keep to national newspaper hours – the same as most of my clients – from 10am to 6.30pm or 7pm, although I take time out when I need it.

I have an article to finish today for a magazine after doing most of the interviews on Friday. It is not always a good idea to leave things over the weekend since the shorthand can be a little harder to decipher.

I knock off a 1,000 words before lunch and feel virtuous enough to go out for a sandwich. I tend to take a full 90 minutes and visit a little cafe in a local garden centre where the staff refer to me as Mr Cheese and Ham after my regular sandwich order. I find lunch a good time to check out what is i the day’s financial sections.

On Tuesday, I have a corporate project to work on. It is a 20-page brochure for a financial services company, which has required quite a lot of research. I mix such work with my normal journalism and get quite a lot of it because I am competitive on my rates.

Some projects have to be done in a hurry and I have often found myself up to 3am completing one.

I now live most of the time in the country in North Lincolnshire (near where I am originally from) and I go running on Tuesday evenings in Scunthorpe with a local club.

Getting jeered at by kids on council estates (with justification, I fear) is in marked contrast to my other life of having lunch in West End restaurants with City PR firms and business editors.

I have one such lunch on Wednesday with a business editor so I get up at 7.30 am to drive down to London, quite a hike to get to a lunch for 1pm.

Lunch goes well. We discuss future ideas and it is good to catch up with an old friend.

Decide to take the rest of the afternoon off to see the Velazquez exhibition at the National Gallery and rummage round Charing Cross Road to add to my collection of about 5,000 books. I wish that, in reality, I was so learned.

I get a call on my mobile about writing a speech for a senior executive, which is very welcome. I do this as a sideline. When I first did this sort of work, I used to write everything for a Tony Blair-style delivery, not realising it was difficult to carry off. I have since leant how to make them very individual. Drive back late and arrive home at 1am.

Thursday, a PR calls about a new client she has got. The story seems interesting enough but is not the sort of stuff I normally write about, so pointless conversation really.

Spend the rest of the day working on some ideas for magazines. This is the bane of any freelancer’s life. You do not get paid for this work and you have to come up with new subject material all the time. Because of recent shortages of editorial space, fewer ideas now end up as solid commissions. Any Out of Contexts or Diary stories? Send them to Diary editor Paul McMillan, email: paul.mcmillan@centaur.co.uk or telephone: 020 7970 4776

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