I have been a freelance writer for more than 25 years, and before that, a professional trade journalist for another six years. Over the years my income has varied but always been very comfortable. I have written magazine articles for most of the major IT pubs, created dozens of websites, and written three books, two of which have been published (and let’s just say the results were less than stellar). Over that period I learned a few important lessons about being a freelancer that I want to share with you. Here is one biggie:
Find your best time of day to write, and protect it.
I am a morning person, that is the way it is. I am most productive in the hours before 10 am. On all of my books, most of the major writing was done in the early morning hours. You need to listen to your body’s biorhythms and follow them. If you have an article to write and it is the wrong time of day, put it aside until tomorrow. Don’t try forcing the words on the page. You will be more productive.
Maybe you have never thought of your writing in this fashion. I know when I first began to do freelancing, I was a bit lost. What do I do first? How do I put together a pitch proposal for work? You have a lot of things competing for your time. So, structuring what you are planning on doing is critical.
For the next week, keep a short journal and note what you spend you time on during each day. Start paying attention to when you can write with the fewest distractions. Do you need to turn off your email, not answer your phone? Shut down a few windows on your computer? Whatever it takes, it is time to focus.
Finally, keep track of ideas. You can use a journal, or have a Word doc that you annotate. Your editors are always looking for new ideas, and it is helpful to have a ready supply of potential pitches.
Now make sure to schedule your “writing time” so that you don’t have other things going on that invade this important part of your day. Dentist or doctor appointments? Visits with friends? Keep them, certainly, but schedule them around your best and most productive moments.