Monday, August 30, 2010

Timing is everything

I typically complete about 10-12 articles a week, plus various other projects. That amazes some folks, who  ask me, "John, how the heck do you get so much done?"

The truth is that there isn't an easy answer for that question, but there are several related answers.

1. I don't have much of a choice. If I'm going to make a living as a freelance writer, I need to get a certain amount of work done every month, every week, every day. I don't get the work done, I don't get paid, and then I don't get to be a freelance writer any more. I like being a freelance writer, so I work very hard at it.

2. I do make the right choices. I know that if a job pays me a certain amount, I can translate that into the amount of hours I should spend working on it. For example, if I'm just doing a quickie blog post for a few bucks, it needs to be completely finished in under half an hour. If I have a big assignment, and it's going to take me days if not weeks to complete, I start right away and put time in every day until it's done. I don't have time to get stressed out over late work, or to spend too long working on something that isn't going to pay.

3. I plan ahead. Changing gears is very difficult. If your head is deep in one project, it's almost impossible to quickly switch gears to work on a different project. Getting interrupted is worse; it totally breaks down the mental system that I need to work. In order to place limits on the distractions in my life, I like to know what they are ahead of time. Even going to the post office every day can be a pain if I'm in the middle of something, so I use those tasks as my "changing gears" moments. I finish a project, then I run an errand or take care of something in the house. When that task is complete, my mind is clear and I'm ready to start the next job.

4. I plan further ahead. I don't want to waste time worrying about what assignments I'm going to have to scramble together next week. I find them and then I have them on the books. I like to have ongoing assignments and relationships with editors and clients so I know I have work from them next month as well as this month. Meanwhile, I am constantly looking for new work. Maybe one in ten pitches works out, but I take the time to fill my pipeline.

5. I never miss a deadline. When I act like a professional, clients want to keep doing business with me. And that helps me keep the words flowing.

I could probably go on a lot more about all of this, but that next project is calling my name...

No comments:

Post a Comment