Realities of freelance writing- Managing yourself
It’s ironic, not to say slightly obscene, that the hard slog of freelance writing is so often “romanticized”. Real freelancers know a very different story. Freelancing isn’t some sort of whimsical exercise in turning out polished phrases and demure copy like an actor. It’s actually all about complex and sometimes nerve wracking relationships, combined with the sometimes thankless task of organizing yourself.
This often brutal exercise in self-herding is very much an acquired taste:
·Getting up and getting productive- This is best done when you’re still half asleep and can’t argue effectively with yourself about getting out of bed and shoving a few cups of coffee into the machinery. You’ll eventually realize that you’ve tricked yourself again, but will by then be more or less conscious enough to agree that you should be getting productive.
·Focusing- You will find that after enough coffee or whatever else has got you vertical and kept you that way that you’ll have to think about what you’re supposed to be doing. (Don’t take this personally- It’s just a coincidence.) The good news about your conscientious semi-consciousness is that you’ll go looking for the easy way to get things done.
·Starting work- Starting work can be done in two ways- The “Whatever’s closest” approach, which does get things done, and the “Conveyor belt” method, which if less glamorous is far more efficient. The conveyor belt approach is ideal for those who prefer to be in a happy haze until about 2PM, and like to work systematically and productively despite themselves. The really big deal here is that how you start work will dictate how productive you can be. Organize yourself to make sure you stick to schedules as closely as you can, and achieve a reliable level of output.
·Communications- Yes, you will have to talk to someone, either by phone or email. Do not attempt to talk to anyone until you’re sure you know what you’re talking about yourself. Don’t talk to anyone at all until you’re sufficiently on the planet to hold a meaningful conversation. This will save you much grief and make sure you don’t tear out all your hair unnecessarily.
·Sending your work out- The golden rule of sending out your work is that when you think it’s perfect is when you should recheck everything. An expert data entry operator has an error rate of 5%. For freelancers, 5% is a luxury. Assume there are problems, and find a checking method that suits your style. (With some jobs you can check progressively, section by section, which is best practice and far less time consuming. The top freelancers edit while they write, and just put up with the weird grammar checks from software, etc.)
So- Are you awake, alert, and full of dedication? Never mind, you’ll get the work done anyway. Just give yourself an occasional kick where it matters to make sure you're functional and you’ll be able to work well and within your own comfort zone.
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