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Top 7 Ways Successful Freelance Writers Juggle Work and Life
By Bobbi Linkemer
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Freelance writing is a balancing act. Picture yourself walking a tightrope between your writing life and your other life, holding a stack of plates in your arms. Then, imagine throwing those plates high above your head. Some of them are the roles you play as a businessperson (freelancing is a business). Others are different clients or editors, depending on what you write. And, finally, there are all of the little plates that represent the different aspects of every writing job. If you’re new to the art of juggling, you will probably drop a few. But after a while, you will develop the skills to keep all of your plates in the air. Here are 7 ways successful freelance writers juggle work and life.
- Do what you love; love what you do.
Isn't this what we all dream of doing? Of course, it is, but how can you make that dream come true? First, you must discover what it is you really love. If it's writing, find a way to make it part of your life. Once it is, start keeping a portfolio of your work, even if you aren't paid for it. When you have a collection of work you're proud to show off, use it as a sales tool. Send samples out with query letters. The proof that you can handle an assignment is in the work you've already done. Excellence speaks for itself.
- Don't quit your day job.
There is a certain romance associated with freelance writing. What is not romantic (in real life) is the idea of living on the street or being unable to go to the grocery store and the gas station in the same week. Making a living as an independent writer can be done; but, for most of us, it's a long, tough road. Perhaps that's why so many people give up on their dreams before they even reach the level of consciousness. Don't give up, but don't be foolhardy, either. Keep your steady income, and write on the side for a while. Build your reputation and your business. You'll know if and when it is time to go full time.
- Fill the pipeline.
Each aspect of work presents its own challenges but none so much as having enough work to keep one financially afloat. It can be a real struggle to land enough big projects or well-paying clients to sustain you. Then, when you have work, it can take up all of your time and energy, to the detriment of finding more work once this job is complete. The "secret" of always having work is to be always looking for it - in other words, engaging in an ongoing marketing effort. The key words here are organized and ongoing. No matter how much you have to do, keeping that pipeline filled should be your top priority.
- Have great respect for deadlines.
For writers, deadlines are sacrosanct. You don't fudge or fall back on excuses; you make them. It's that simple. If you don't, be assured some other writer will. Once upon a time, this was a given, maybe because so many writers started out as newspaper reporters. These days, deadlines may seem a bit more flexible, but they are just as real and just as important as they ever were. When you tell an editor you'll have copy in by a certain date, do it. When a client says she wants the project by Friday, get it there by Friday, even if she sits on it for a week. That's the client's privilege. Your job is to make the deadline.
- Learn to juggle ... assignments & roles
To say that running a freelance business is a juggling act is an understatement. First, there are all the roles you play in your business, from president to janitor. If you are a one-person operation, you do everything, even though you may be better at some tasks than at others. Second, there is the possibility of having multiple projects from several clients. While that sounds wonderful, it requires a host of skills to keep them separate and on schedule, while giving each your full attention while you're working on it. Finally, there are all the parts a single writing project can have, such as meetings, interviews, research, writing, revisions, and approvals, to mention a few. You need two principal skills keep all those plates in the air: intense concentration and the ability to switch gears on a dime.
- Remember: Everything Counts
Think of life as a marketing call, and you can't go wrong. Whatever you do, say, or write, you are making an impression, and you probably won't get a chance to correct that impression later on. People remember the smallest details: you didn't return a call; you made a promise you didn't keep; your voice mail was full, and they couldn't leave a message; you sounded less than warm when you answered your phone; your handshake was limp. As a freelance writer, you are always "on," even when you may not realize it. Your voice reveals your state of mind; your clothes position you; your grooming speaks to your attention to detail. Get the idea? Everything counts!
- Get a Life!
There are two approaches to work: one is working to live; the other is living to work. I am one of those who live to work. I have friends who take the opposite position. "Working supports a lifestyle, it is not a lifestyle," they insist. "You can love what you do and work hard at it, but its purpose is to let you enjoy the rest of your life." They have a point. If your work is what you live for, it can become a consuming addiction. Then, everything suffers, including the thing that is getting most of your attention and energy. A balanced life should encompass your social, physical, and spiritual dimensions, as well as your creative side.
Bobbi Linkemer is a book-writing coach [http://writeanonfictionbook.com/Coaching.html], editor, and ghostwriter. She is the author of 12 books under her own name and has been a professional writer for 40 years, a magazine editor and journalist, and a book-writing teacher. Her clients range from Fortune 100 companies to entrepreneurs who want to write books in order to enhance their credibility and build their businesses. Visit her Website at: http://www.WriteANonfictionBook.com
Article Submitted On: November 07, 2007