A writer with a passion for the outdoors, Karen Evenden enjoys freelancing because it allows her to “put the two things [she] love[s] together: travel and writing.” She initially half-heartedly tried to get her start a few years ago and had a few articles published, but it was only more recently that her freelancing career really began to take off, when a friend suggested that she approach a UK paper about writing on the differences between Canada and the UK. So Karen got in touch with her hometown paper and landed a gig writing articles for their online edition.
Her primary focus is on travel writing, although she’s also interested in expanding into environmental issues. With a working background in tourism, she finds that travel is an area that she knows well, and because she travels regularly, she finds ideas for stories keep coming to her more and more often.
When she was just getting her start, she found it was challenging to get her name out and make herself known without already having something published. This time around, she says that the work has come more easily because she’s writing about something she enjoys. “If you have a passion, whether that’s knitting or, I don’t know, cheese or whatever, just focus on your passion first, because I think it comes more naturally.”
Writing about her passion means that she’s enjoyed all of the jobs she’s done. One in particular that stands out was when she got to write about the Maligne Canyon ice walk in Jasper, but says, “I’m lucky, I think, because I’m writing about things that I’m already enjoying doing and they’re all quite memorable.”
Working in Canada’s great outdoors does pose some unique challenges, and Karen has found her special pen to be an invaluable tool. After regular pens kept freezing on her, a friend gifted her with a Space Pen — which works in all sorts of conditions and even writes upside-down — and it’s now her favourite tool.
For those trying to get their start in the profession, she urges self-confidence to just get out there. “Until you start trying, you’re not sure how far you’re going to get, so just get out there. Places like the public libraries offer free workshops and writer presentations. I found that it was very hard initially to make myself go, but once you begin and get used to calling yourself a writer, it starts fitting into place.” In her own experience, talking to other writers can also be invaluable, because realizing that everyone starts at the same place can give you the courage to keep going.