Canadian Writer Profile – Bryan Mcwilliam

Bryan Mcwilliam worked in shipping and receiving for ten years, but found that this didn’t give him much opportunity to indulge his creative side. Then one day, a Facebook post that he made about the Toronto Blue Jays got such a great response that it went viral, and his wife suggested that he should try exploring his creativity through writing and journalism. So he enrolled in journalism school and has now been freelancing since April 2011.

Bryan’s writing focuses primarily on sports and music, and he covers many different types of athletics. A baseball fanatic and player himself — and a member of the Canadian Baseball Network — the sport is his passion, but he also enjoys writing about football and even covering more obscure sports like roller derby and pro wrestling. “It’s not something that a lot of people do, so it’s kind of neat to get into that field and really learn a lot about something that isn’t as popular as other sports.”

Along with the ability to be creative, Bryan also appreciates the freedom of scheduling that freelancing provides, since it allows him to be flexible in other areas of his life. Since he also coaches sports, which takes up a lot of his time, Bryan finds that freelancing allows him to work in both areas. “It’s sort of like I have an alter ego or an alternate life. I do journalism, and then when I’m not doing that, I do coaching, and the flexibility of freelancing allows me to do both.”

For Bryan, the best part of freelance writing is getting to meet so many different people. “And one of the greatest things about meeting new people is, you really meet people you never thought you could meet in your life. There’s some really interesting characters. Especially working with sports and music frequently, there’s some people you meet that you would never have met if you hadn’t been a writer.” On the other hand, one of the hardest parts about freelancing is finding consistent work. You can network, search online, send out resumes and do internships, and still end up going a month without work, he notes. “When you do find work, usually it’s really well paying, but it’s just sporadic, so it’s really tough.”

He really enjoyed a gig covering the Roller Derby World Cup in Toronto last year for the AV Club. The first event of its kind, Bryan found it very entertaining. “It was three or four days of just non-stop roller derby playing, and thousands of people there, and it was at a really unique venue.” And covering the event gave Bryan the opportunity to meet lots of interesting people.

To help make sure his work is as error-free as possible, Bryan finds that it helps to read his writing aloud to himself, in order to catch spelling and punctuation errors, misquotes and other mistakes. He also likes to use his digital recorder when on site to cover an event, since it helps him to ensure his quotes and details are accurate, while also allowing him to relive the emotion of interviews.

To those just starting out, Bryan says, “Don’t give up right away.” You’ll have to spend a lot of time doing pitch letters and queries, and trying to find work. You’ll be disappointed a lot of the time, especially when you get rejected or don’t hear back at all about an idea you thought was great. “So having that really strong will, and that determination to keep writing, is what will separate you from other writers who give up really early.”

You can learn more about Bryan on his website. He also wishes to express his thanks to his wife Ana, Miz Rebel Records, the Canadian Baseball Network and Toronto Roller Derby.

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