Monday, February 22, 2010

Freelance Rewind: Five Tips To Get Your Writing Career Off The Ground

Occasionally, I plan to do these types of posts that may make the more experienced freelance writers who read this a bit annoyed since the tips and ideas I present may be rather "basic." That's fine. I can understand that. But, have you considered the potential benefits that come with reacquainting yourself with some fundamentals of the freelance writing game? You might be surprised how many of them you have taken for granted - or forgotten entirely.

When you've made the transition from a regular 9 to 5 job to freelancing from home, you will obviously need to make some adjustments in order to get your new writing career off the ground.  Many of these have to do with setting boundaries and staying motivated. I've written about these issues in past posts, but it doesn't hurt to offer them up again. I hope to do this from a slightly different angle. There are reasons to revisit the first steps too - to take advantage of a freelance rewind in order get back on the right track.

Five Tips

I am want to include at least five good tips that may provide you some guidelines to help make the transition easier so you will not lose productivity or sabotage your fledgling freelance efforts.

1. You must keep your work and home life separate. Now this one may be laughable to some of you. It seems one of the hardest tasks, sometimes, to make a true separation between your work environment and your normal home environment - particularly when you have little kids. If you are lucky enough to have a designated work space outside the home or an office, that's great. (Although, even offices are no bar to the little ones when you're the only one at home with them.) If you have a studio apartment or limited space, you may have to get more creative about establishing boundaries between the work and home areas. You need this division. It will help keep your mind focused on the writing you need to do.

2. Dress appropriately. What do I mean by this one? Well, if you have read much about freelance writers at all, then you've heard the common story about "writing in your pajamas." Personally, I do not do this very often. I get up and get dressed for the day. Yet, maybe you, like many others new to the profession, appreciate this declaration of freedom. You don't have to wear a suit or a nice skirt and blouse to work. You can lounge in jogging pants and tee shirt. There's no one to impress. The work will get done either way, you say. The interesting thing about you choice of clothes is that it can often impact your attitude or mood. If you get dressed for work, you may feel more like working than if you're still in your robe and slippers. It's a psychological thing.

3. Set your work hours (and stick to them!). That's right. It may sound great in the beginning for you to say you don't have set hours to work anymore, but there are some consequences to consider. If you choose certain hours to work, you can keep a better schedule throughout the day. This can be a lifesaver when you have other people who depend on you. Relationships can suffer when you don't plan reasonable hours. Think about it.

4. Don't let midday diversions get the best of you. The big trap that many fall into who transition from 9 to 5 to work-at-home is time management in the face of those open hours at home. You need to set your work hours. It is simply too tempting to misuse the time they have by watching television, going to see movies, or engaging in some other activities when they should be writing.

5. Get out and socialize some. Now, there are times when you should get out. Many freelancers live a solitary life in from of the screen most days, so it is easy to feel isolated or distant from the rest of the world. One of the best remedies (as long as it doesn't derail your whole schedule) is to go out for lunch. Perhaps, you can meet a spouse or have a meeting with a client or fellow writer. You could use this as a chance to socialize and also do some networking for future freelance gigs.

In Closing...

For me, reviewing some of these basics has been a good help. I needed the reminders. I hope you feel the same way. If you haven't started your own freelancing career yet, I hope that you have more information to think about so you can make the right decision for you. Have a great day! Catch you later.

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