I’m a freelance writer! Sounds good, right? Ready to make it happen? Here are a few tips from a long term writer-on-assignment (me!) When you make the announcement to acquaintances that you are a freelance writer their minds immediately take them to the idea that you spend your days lounging around in coffee shops, sipping decaf lattes and lingering over each word you type into your state-of-the-art laptop. Oh, if only that were true.
The true life of a freelancer, while coming with the freedom to write at 4 a.m. or 4 p.m. can typically be a fine line between finishing an article on time and wondering where the next assignment is going to come from.
Here are some tips for making the most of your freelance life and for finding ways to earn enough money to afford to keep yourself in decaf lattes:
- Get dressed: Truly, getting up and showering, brushing your teeth and putting on clothes not only makes you more attractive to the family andpets, but makes you feel more productive. It’s mind over matter – you feel professional therefore you are professional! It doesn’t matter if your office is the edge of the bed or the kitchen table once the breakfast clutter has been cleared away, if you’re a freelance writer pursuing a professional career you need to think of yourself as a professional writer and act (and dress) accordingly.
- Punching a clock: As a writer, you will have the benefit of choosing your own hours. If you write best in the middle of the night or in the middle of the afternoon, that’s fine as long as you meet your deadlines. You do need to create a division between home and work, because you don’t want to be working 24/7 – that’s not good for your mental or physical health. Also, once you know your best writing time, make sure you’re ready to work; turn off email, sign out of Facebook and log out of the video games. You need to devote time to your writing without distractions.
- Taking a break: I will admit to this – I am not a good example of not being distracted by television becaue I watch it all day, every day while I am working. Sometimes I turn on the radio but more often than not the television is chattering away while I work. I also find myself stopping to do laundry or go to the grocery store and while it gives me a break from the keyboard, it’s easy to not take your freelance writing career seriously because you don’t have a boss standing over your shoulder as you would if you were in an office, but you don’t want to be so lax in your work schedule that you scramble to complete a project by its deadline – your work quality will suffer and your assignments could dry up.
- See the world: This may sound contradictory to the tip above, but remember you do need to get out into the world. Many writers are solitary individuals by nature and that is why the freelance life suits them but it’s easy to isolate yourself and as the days go by it’s easier to not leave the house than it is to leave it. Don’t let yourself get in the habit of cancelling lunch or dinner dates, make certain you attend networking or writers’ groups. As a writer, how can you effectively write about the world outside your door if you never make it outside the door?
If you’ve decided that 2011 is the year your freelance career is going to become the focus of your life, then take time to think of the tips above and look at where you can set up your home office, what times you will be writing and what you will do to still maintain a social life. Next week, I’ll talk about where to find writing assignments and how to catch the editor’s eye with your awesome query letter!
Written and contributed by Guest Blogger Robbi Hess