There are very few writers that I know who stay ahead of the game. Most of us are running so far behind the pack that we forget there is a pack. There is something about the rush to complete a project on time AND at the last minute that just sets the freelance writerâ€™s muse to dancing.
That is the myth. And I am tired of letting a myth run my life.
The reality is that staying behind or just barely on time steals your money, your sense of peace and ultimately your life. Think about it â€“ if you are just on time with one project then there is no room to take on a new project, to work on those unpaid jobs (like a novel) or to search for more jobs. When Iâ€™m running behind on a project I canâ€™t go with the family on those unexpected field trips and I miss out on the children playing at the park or going to the Aquarium. The more I fall behind then the more I have to do â€“ like take my mother to the doctor or help my neighbor catch a cow â€“ and that pushes me even more behind and thatâ€™s when I start to stress.
Iâ€™m tired of being robbed. Having trouble sleeping because I know a project is due or staying up all night and getting no sleep to get the project done is no way to live a peaceful life. Hearing my children say â€œnever mind, I know you have to workâ€ is NOT why I choose to work from home.
It is time for me to take back all that procrastination and the â€œlast minute rushâ€ have cost. I am going to get ahead, stay ahead and finally make the freelance income that I desire to make and enjoy the freelance life that I know is out there. Iâ€™ve talked before about budgeting time just like budgeting money, but today Iâ€™m taking my freelance writing career to that next level.
1. Get one week ahead on projects. This does not mean take the next week off, instead it means following the schedule already set and working on projects each day so that I STAY one week ahead.
2. Turn projects in one to two days early (unless specifically asked NOT to turn them in early). If I stay ahead then even last minute projects can be completed early.
3. Spend one hour every day on creative writing. The novel will not edit itself and the second and third novels will not write themselves. Iâ€™ve tried. Doing writing projects are a valuable source of income but they are not the reasons that I set out to become a successful freelance writer.
4. Do one more thing. Freelance writing is like anything else in the world. It is easy to make an excuse to stop, put off starting or get side tracked. The best way to combat this is to do one more article or item before you take off for the night or take a break.
5. Limit break times. I need limits. If I take a break for â€œa little whileâ€ then it will be hours later before I even think about writing and then I make the excuse that it would be better to just start fresh in the morning. By knowing I am going to take a break for thirty minutes to play outside with the kids or to go for a walk along the creek then I know that I will be getting back to work right after that.
6. Exercise daily. It may not seem connected to writing, but I can tell a difference between those days that I get up and get moving for thirty minutes to an hour and those days that I try to sit and work through. My focus is much better when my body is refreshed and rejuvenated.
7. Make short term goals. Setting a goal that is broad â€“ like writing a novel â€“ can make the goal seem impossible. I like to set daily, weekly and sometimes monthly goals. Today I will create an outline for the new novel or today I will write 1000 words of fiction. Little goals that can be completed will make big goals more attainable.
8. Just do it. I had to get up at three in the morning yesterday to make myself get caught up. At that time of day even the birds are still asleep so there were no distractions for me to rely on. Do whatever it takes to get caught up â€“ skip the television, skip the study group, skip meals if you have to! Once you get caught up and are free of the debt of past due projects then you will be on your way to becoming the successful freelance writer that you know you can be.
Today a myth will die. I will not thrive on the last minute project any more. This is my business and my life and I will take control of it and direct my freelance career in a positive way. There are changes that will have to be made and sacrifices that will occur but the end result will make all of the struggles worth it!