Monday, August 30, 2010
Timing is everything
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...