Freelance Writer’s Guide to not Going Completely Crazy
By Leslie A. Panfil
Designated work area. Have a space to call your own. While I do a lot of my writing from the kitchen table, I have an office space for when the house gets a little distracting.
Be organized. Easier said than done for most creative types. I write a lot of articles about organization not because I am, but because it is an area I could always improve. Every small step you take towards being more organized saves you time and aggravation.
Keep it together. You will go crazy if what you need to write is scattered from one end of the house to the other. The phone only rings with that important interview when you are nowhere near it and nothing is worse than being on a literary roll only to have to break the momentum by searching for reference material you left somewhere.
Get physical. Let’s face it, we spend a lot of time on our butts. A light stretching or yoga routine that can be done periodically throughout the day will not only keep you healthy but help revitalize your thinking. I come up with some of my best ideas on my evening walk.
Punch the clock. One of the joys of a freelance life is that you can make your own schedule. But, many of us never get around to actually scheduling part.
Break it up. I write for a weekly newspaper and sometimes the deadlines are tight and I have to write fast. But, accuracy and writing well is still a priority and nothing will help your proofreading and editing like taking a break. Even a 5 minute break will help you read your copy with fresh eyes.
Silence please. Granted, I’m one of those people who like to work in a sensory deprived environment but, television, email, Facebook, texts can be a black hole that sucks your daylight hours dry. Set regular times during the day when you check all of your various devises or set goals (i.e. I will check my email after I spend one hour on this research.)
Do not disturb. One of the toughest challenges is getting others to understand you are working. What you do looks oddly similar to simply surfing the net or sending email. Having a designated work area helps to send the message that you are at work. But, let’s face it, shy of a dead bolt and an electric fence your family is going to come bursting into that “designated” space. So, it is important to have some kind of system in place preferably visual, that lets your family know – not now. When I’m really under deadline, I tell my family what I’m working on and I cannot be disturbed for a certain time frame.
Create your own office water cooler. A freelance life can be lonely so it is important to create a community of likeminded people you enjoy sharing your life with. While it is sometimes easier to find a likeminded community online, you need to have a life outside of cyber-land. Spend some face-to-face time with people even if you don’t have much in common. Tell them what you do. They might just have a great story idea.
Get out of the house. Few things will do more for your mental state than getting out of the house. Since you are the keeper of your own schedule, consider running errands during the daytime. The stores are less crowed saving you time. By getting those errands out of the way, you will be able to write while the rest of the working world is battling the 5:30 p.m. checkout line at the grocery store.
Work it. Work your brain in a different way. Spend some time doing a puzzle, game or other hobby that isn’t word based.
Read outside the box. If you are a technical writer, read some sci-fi. If you write fiction, pick up an issue of National Geographic. There just might be a great plot line or inspirational writing style that will freshen up your latest project.