As a professional freelancer, how do you find a balance between keeping up with your own projects and maintaining your freelance business?
Unless you have discovered the secret to creating more hours in the day and magically enhancing your writing stamina it can be difficult. Your personal projects, your novels, your short stories, or your blog is itching to take center stage. It’s always there begging to be finished or worked on.
Full-time fiction writers, who spend all their time on their works and personal projects have their own unique set of challenges. But for full-time freelance writers who write magazine articles, blog posts, and website submissions dealing with everything from self-help to travel guides, here are seven little tidbits that will help you keep your business and personal projects going.
- Set Your Priorities
Take a minute and make a to-do list. Do this every morning, writing down all your tasks you hope to work on that day, including your blog, freelance gigs, pitches to send, and personal projects. Usually, this is the last item on the list.
- Make Time For Your Fiction Every Day
Try and set aside an hour or so every day, just for fiction. If you want to get your novel out there, you need to finish it, and you’re not going to do that waiting for the muses to strike, and writing in spurts of creative momentum. Cultivate the habit of working on it a little every day.
- Don’t Stress
If you end up looking at a blank cursor, blinking away with nothing coming out then it’s time to step away and do something else. When this happens to you, take about 20 minutes to stretch, go for a walk, color (one of my favorite de-stressing activities,) or anything else that would clear your mind and help you to refocus. Then start again, maybe switching to another project, or going back to an article with a deadline coming up.
- Paying Gigs First
For freelancers, paying gigs come first. As much as we would like to spend more of our time on our fiction, and other satisfying creative projects, the truth is, we can’t. We need to focus our time on where the money is coming from. And that means getting pitches out, getting articles submitted, sending emails, and working with editors.
- Find Your Maximum Word Count
What’s your maximum word count? The usual amount of words you can write per day without exhaustion or frequent breaks? Not only is it another way to manage your goals and to-do list, it’s also helpful because then you will know what you can and can’t do. If you can get out 2,000 words most days, and you know you have two 1,000 word articles due, it will take about 2 days to get them “submission ready”.
- Have a Weekly Routine
Some people work really well with scheduled days. For instance, Monday and Tuesday are pitch and cold email days, Wednesday is when you focus on your own works, Thursday you write for your clients etc. Try it for a month and see if it works for you, but allow yourself some leeway and flexibility. Some people enjoy having a more focused approach, while others may need more variation.
- Balance the Books
Get your budget figured out. It’s tedious, it’s boring, it’s the least appealing part of having a freelance business. But determine the weekly or monthly amount you need or want to make. When you have a good amount of income coming in, and your budget starts balancing out, you’ll have a better idea how much time you can devote to your own projects.
These are the tips that may be helpful in your journey to freelance success. Everyone’s personal routine is different and what works for one person might not work for you. The main thing to consider is that your fiction and freelance both deserve your time, and hopefully these tips can help you find that balance.