Five Major Pitfalls of Freelance Writing and How to Address Them
Freelance writing is a great way to earn money (if possible, a living), develop one’s writing and proofreading skills, and establish one’s reputation as a writer. This occupation has become popular in the recent years because of other benefits or “perks” associated to it. Basically, becoming a freelance writer gives you the opportunity to get hold of your schedule the way you want it to be while working and doing the thing you loved the most - WRITING. This means you would have all the chance in the world to work at your own pace and time. Plus, you don’t have to go to a workplace or report to a superior. Second, you can produce large amounts of income most especially if you come up with quality outputs every time. Since you have the prerogative to get as much work as you can handle, you are the one determining the fate of your pay check. Hah! With all those said, wouldn’t it be wonderful to hop in the bandwagon to become a freelance writer?
I’ve been hearing so many feedbacks about freelance writing – both positive and negative. That’s why I got a whole picture of such job staring right in front of me. The word FREELANCE and WRITING just seemed so promising. So without any hesitations, I opted to give it a try and was very fortunate to have found a company which will allow me to work on a freelance basis. Until now, I would willingly testify that I am having a great time because I enjoy a set-up wherein I am given full control of my job with lesser directions or supervision. But I have to admit, it wasn’t easy starting out…
It’s been almost three months since I got hired as a freelance writer. And in such span of time, I have experienced various difficulties from which, I honestly profess, I had pretty hard time dealing with. I am quite sure that almost all freelance writers had experienced (And always would!) these challenges at one point of their lives. Having thought of this a long time, I decided to collate all my insights on recent experiences I had in my present occupation as a freelance writer; with the aim of helping those who are in the same puddle or giving a sneak-peak to those who are thinking of venturing to this field. I have no intention of inflicting discouragement. Please be reminded that I do this because I want to help.
Are you ready? If you are, then here’s my list of the top five most annoying freelance writing pitfalls and some stuff I did about them:
In the beginning of my freelance writing career, I always thought I’d never get through the type of schedule I had. This may sound ironic given my job as a “FREElancer”. Supposedly, I should have more time to work around my deadlines and writing jobs. But the reality is, freelance writing has the tendency to make you do otherwise. Since you are so much preoccupied with the joys of freelance writing, you may forget one key element to succeed – TIME MANAGEMENT. You always have to remember that although you work in a home-based or I’d-work-anywhere-and-anytime-I-want manner, it is very necessary to bind yourself on a schedule. So when I was in the verge of messing up everything because of mismanaged time allotments, I decided to make my own working schedule. When I said schedule, I meant something I ABIDE with every day. Because of several distractions at home, it could be really hard for a freelance writer to focus. So a strictly set schedule, something like the ones I used to follow during my clinical practice as nurse, was really helpful. Working around such pre-set times and activities increased my earnings, time for leisure, and decreased my stress levels.
What I did: I used an old notebook and bought a cheap planner to organize my activities and events. Whenever there’s an upcoming gig (since I am also a vocalist for a Philippine rock band), shows, or singing engagements, I’d plot them on my planner and work my entire schedule from there. I use my old notebook to jot down notes and some other things related to my writing submissions and other plans for the day. And look, I don’t have to spend so much just to make all these happen.
This is by far the most dreadful of all the pitfalls I (and others) have encountered. Have you ever came to a point when you’re staring at your blank screen for like thirty minutes and still don’t have the slightest idea on how to get started? Yeah, I know the feeling – it sucks big time! Surely, this would consume a lot of time and entail a lot of effort in the part of the freelance writer. Almost all writers have had their fair share of such experience and I’d bet they would continue having some of this for the rest of their lives.
What I did: While it is true that writer’s block is a normal phenomenon, it doesn’t follow that a writer should succumb to such challenge. So whenever I feel like I have nothing else to say, I take a deep breath then type the most primitive of words and ideas that come out. I continue writing even if some ideas tend to become repetitive. Then from there, the signal shows up! For some reasons, my brain is stimulated to think through this methodology that it actually begins to recognize redundancy and rectifies them. And as I correct some errors from the first couple of sentences I've written to begin with, the next thing I knew is I have finished and submitted a well-written and informative article already. So the key to a writer’s block is simply START WRITING.
BOREDOM AND LACK OF ENTHUSIASM
Most often than not, especially when you’re working for content mills, there will be times when you have to write about a certain topic over and over again. Like in my case, writing about workout supplements, furniture, and kitchen wares happens almost every week. There are also times when some clients would like you to write the impossible. And I tell you, it would really get into your nerves. Overtime, you’d lose interest and would have second thoughts whether you’d like to continue on this freelance thing or not.
What I did: Lack of enthusiasm, in my own opinion, is just a state of mind. If you’d think that you “can’t”, “don’t”, and “won’t” be able to write about something every day, then it would happen. Being able to produce as much output as needed should always be the right frame of mind, especially if you are a freelance writer where the only boss and critic is yourself. In order to do something about it, I made sure to include at least an hour of leisure throughout my working schedule on a daily basis. During my so called “break time”, I’d read some interesting blogs or news online; play and hear some rock music; and play tetris on Facebook. When it comes to your preference on how to ignite enthusiasm and eradicate boredom in you, whatever method that works for you is the best. The key is to provide a temporary leeway from all the writing stuff (since one has the inevitable tendency to get saturated with freelance work) and renew enthusiasm and interest by other means. But I have to warn you about that Tetris thing, for it can also become a distraction in the long run. Haha!
LACK OF ENERGY
This is by far the easiest one to do something about. In days when you feel like waking up on the wrong side of the bed or you don’t have enough energy boosts to proceed for the entire day, you may at least try some simple things to get back on track.
What I did: Before I work in the morning, I pop in some of my favourite songs and music while sipping on a cup of coffee and enjoying my hearty breakfast. Don’t proceed to work after waking up just yet. I did that several times and I tell you, it won’t do you any good. It’s important to have the right nourishment at the beginning of your day and all throughout. This means no skipping of meals and snacks. Freelance writers make use of lots of glucose to feed their brains and energize their metacarpal bones and finger muscles to carry on for the rest of the day.
LACK OF FOCUS AND DISCIPLINE
Sadly, anyone will not succeed doing the so-called techniques to address the aforementioned “pitfalls” if he would lack the power and might to perceive and sustain focus and discipline. Obviously, working on these two are harder than overcoming writer’s block and can be very difficult to deal with. This is an unending process wherein anybody, even the most seasoned and popular writers there is, continues to work with. Keep your focus by setting your mind and heart on the goal and cultivating your passion in writing in everything you do. In short, always do what you ought to do – nothing more and nothing less.
Freelance writing is a rewarding career and job. But it will always be good to know that thriving in one is not as easy as it seems. It entails passion, hard work, and discipline. Am still in the process of fortifying my craft and so far in my career as a freelance writer, these were just some of the things I experienced and stumbled upon. Hope all these helped.