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Behind the Pen

I always wanted to be a writer, but I never expected I was going to be given an assignment where I would interview someone about nut shrinkage.

Yes, this was the case for a forthcoming piece in Produce Business about pecan merchandising. (I have a propensity for saying pecan “wrong” and learned while writing this article that there are more than two ways to say pecan: peak-anne, peak-ahn, pah-cahn – I’m a fan of the latter.) Writing the article made me frequently think of Billy Crystal in When Harry Met Sally (1989), view the clip here. “I would be proud to partake of your pecan pieeee.”)

Typically, for articles, I interview 3-4 sources. This particular magazine prefers to have about 8 sources, which means the double the work, double the interview fun, but I’m still pressed with the same amount of time I always have for juggling business copy, article writing, workshop organizing and memoir writing. Through my double load of interviews I made a list of tips for freelance writers who are on deadline and need to wrap up interviews:

  1. Questions in advance. Decide what you need to ask your particular source. Have 3 questions ready in advance and submit them to your interviewee so that they will be prepared when you speak with them.
  2. 10-minute mark. When scheduling with your source, let them know the interview will only be 10 minutes and that you have another interview scheduled right after theirs. If they go off on a valuable tangent, let them, and take notes. If the go off on a not-so-valuable tangent, politely interrupt them and remind them about the time limit. Most sources are just as busy as writers and happy to keep interviews as short as possible.
  3. Use a headset or speakerphone. Record your interviews and eliminate the bulk of your transcription time by typing your source’s responses while you’re on the phone with them. This saves me the most time!

Okay, now enjoy the extra time you saved with a slice of pecan pie.