Thursday, September 26, 2013

Gals We Admire: Bronwyn Kienapple

Freelance writer Bronwyn Kienapple lets us in on her exciting life of a "deliberately loose schedule" (after years of working 9-to-5). The former Torontonian is able to do her job in other parts of the world (fun!) and we love her refreshing honesty about why she's glad she works for herself ( I can’t stand corporate psycho-babble and kissing butt/soothing hurt egos. The only ego I want to stroke is my own, which is gigantic and all-consuming.) Well put, Bronwyn!

Name:  Bronwyn Kienapple
Profession: Freelance Writer
Twitter handle @b_kienapple

Describe your typical work day, from start to finish.
After working a 9-to-5 job for so many years, I have a deliberately loose schedule. I never set my alarm. Since I live in Mexico City right now, my day begins with a hunt for tasty street food. I settle down at the kitchen table after breakfast with my cats and bang off some writing. I take a break for lunch and then I bang off more writing in the afternoon. I try to spend the early evenings soliciting new contracts, replying to email, setting up my tweets for the next day, or blogging. If I take the afternoon off to sightsee I work at night. Whatever happens, I always make my daily minimum of income, no excuses. 

When you were a kid, what did you want to grow up to be?
I wanted to be a television broadcaster because I thought how much fun it would be to get my make-up done every day and wear pretty clothes. Seriously, how shallow is that? Cure world hunger? Tend to the needs of the needy? Invent the next light bulb? No, I wanted to get my face painted. In any case, I was obsessed with inventing mini-worlds – girl bands, rabbit kingdoms, imaginary friends – which helped me to become a storyteller later in life.

What do you enjoy most about your job?
I love being my own boss (I used to work in publishing in Toronto in online marketing). I have a serious resistance to authority and being told what to do. I can’t stand corporate psycho-babble and kissing butt/soothing hurt egos. The only ego I want to stroke is my own, which is gigantic and all-consuming. I choose my own projects, set my own deadlines, create my own goals, and decide on my own earning power. The only person I have to blame is myself. The only person I have to congratulate is myself. And when a client isn’t working out, there’s always another, better one. Now that is freedom! My work is also location independent so I can travel all over the world while working. I really, really love that.

What do you find to be the biggest challenge in your profession?
I absolutely love to write and never believed that I could make a living out of it. The great thing is that there is plenty of corporate writing work. The bad thing is that it’s hard to break into hard journalism as a freelancer. Even worse, magazines take eons to pay you. At least with corporate work I’ve never had a client pay me more than a week out from the project completion date. That said, I made a dollar per word rate that would probably shock established writers/journalists. I have to hustle big time to make a living and even then, I need to live in a third world country to make do. Since I love to travel this isn’t a problem but still. Finally, as a freelancer if you’re not working you’re not earning. I’d like to add a passive earning source to my income  a business that can operate independently while constantly generating income. That’s my next big project.

Do you believe you had a "calling" for your profession?
My true love is creative writing and happily my first two novels are currently being shopped by a Toronto agent. If anything is my ‘calling’ it’s writing novels. When I wasn’t dreaming of being an overly made-up TV presenter as a child, I was devouring big, fat Victorian novels. Writing larger-than-life characters with mixed motives and a tinge of crazy gets me going. I love creating my own mini-worlds, too. It’s how my control-freak tendencies justify themselves. 

What are the three most important pieces of career advice you would give to other Canadian Career Gals?
Don’t ever accept a job that refuses to promote you, refuses to pay you properly, doesn’t compensate you for overtime, and asks you to give and give without giving back. For your own sanity, get out of there. Women tend to work longer hours for less pay and less glory than men. I have seen way too many women suffer needlessly in jobs because they felt like they owed their employer something or because they didn’t think they could find new work. There are always options, ladies. Yes you are talented and yes your talents are needed elsewhere. Send out that CV, stat. 

Try freelancing. There are absolutely no drawbacks to this one. Either you will love it and decide to transition to freelancing full-time or you’ll pocket some extra change that can sit pretty in the bank while you work your 9-5. Check out or and see what’s available. Can you use Excel? Do you have sales skills? Done marketing before? Know a second language? I guarantee there’s something for everyone out there. 

Sexual harassment: so many women I know have been exposed to it in the workplace. I don’t know exactly if this constitutes career advice, but please don’t put up with it from anyone, in any form. Whether severe or mild, if it makes you uncomfortable get thee to human resources immediately. Just remember: it’s never, ever your fault. Did you directly, specifically ask to be sexually harassed? I don’t think so.


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