Archive for December, 2009

Pushing Past Your Writing Anxiety

December 15, 2009 1 comment

Over on the Writer’s Roundabout, Michele Tune wrote a touching piece on Overcoming Social Phobia. While I love everything she wrote in this post, I wanted to touch deeper into the heart of what social anxiety, and a host of other mental disorders, can do to us as freelance writers.

I too exhibit signs of social phobia. I cringe at going to the grocery store, and I am the guaranteed wallflower at most social events. If I even bring myself to go. I have a hard time socializing with others in public, although online is far easier. I don’t have to “face” people, rather I am safe and comfortable in my home, responding only when I choose to, and after composing my thoughts. I don’t feel “compelled” to respond right away, and I avoid saying something I may regret.

Yet there comes a time when “the Muse is on vacation.” You sit down with your pen or keyboard, and the words don’t come. What does come is a wall of anxiety, pushing past your logical thoughts, your moods, your emotions. They are all replaced by this intense internal static, that makes you want to scream and cry at the same time. Personally, mine feels like a lump of electricity crackling in the top of my chest, which expands to envelop my mind.

As freelancers, we don’t really have the luxury to indulge the anxiety. Words must be written to produce cash in the wallet. There are many ways to shove on, and produce no matter what. But ignoring the symptoms won’t make it go away, and the anxiety will persist, cropping up at the worst possible times. Here are my tips for dealing with freelance writing anxiety.

  1. Block outside distractions. If you must work on the anxiety-triggering project ASAP, create an environment as conducive to writing as possible. For me, this means turning on my mp3 player and letting the music block outside noises. If you can take your laptop or notebook and hide away in your special writing spot, so much the better. Light a candle, say a prayer, do what is right for you to create an area of peace to focus on inside of you.
  2. Switch writing projects. If your freelance writing can wait for fifteen minutes, switch it out for some fun writing instead. Nonfiction can give way to fiction or poetry, or even a burst of journal freewriting. Let yourself go, and write whatever is in your heart. Sometimes, your anxiety just needs an outlet, and you will feel much better after giving it one. Other creative projects work too, such as drawing, knitting, or other crafts.
  3. Take care of yourself. Go hop in the shower, do your hair, and get a drink and a snack. Rebooting your day, no matter what time it is, can give you a fresh perspective. Sometimes when we’re so wiped out, all we can do is start over, and try again.
  4. Talk to a trusted friend. There is nothing better than getting it all out, and discussing your concerns with someone who cares about you and your well-being. Your anxiety may be due to a writing-related issue, or it could be something completely unrelated. A fresh perspective can make all the difference.
  5. Give yourself permission. The last thing you want to do is beat yourself up for feeling bad! Allow your anxiety to exist. Remember that it is just a feeling, justified or not. There is a reason that it exists, and many times once you figure out the problem, the feeling will go away. Remember that you are a good, worthwhile person, no matter how badly you feel.
  6. Release the anxiety. Many times the anxiety feeds on our natural responses to it. We may clench our fists, jaws, and/or muscles. We may tense up and develop headaches or stomachaches. All of this makes us feel much worse. Take a few deep breaths, and visualize yourself letting go of the feeling. Create a space where you can release the pain, release the anxiety, and just let it exist, independent of you. While it may not go away, you can at least distance yourself from its immediate physical effects, and develop a more objective view of its existence and your responses to it.

Of course, if anxiety is impeding your ability to live your life, or is coupled with other symptoms, seek the help of a medical professional. There could be physical or mental causes to your anxiety symptoms.

What are your tips on pushing through writing anxiety? Share them here!


Photo Credit: Quapan


Writing Through the Snow

December 9, 2009 3 comments

I live in the heart of the Midwest, which has become snow dumping ground central! My guess, we’ve had at least seven inches of snow over the past few days. Highways are shut down, and the road crews can’t even navigate the high drifts. Such is winter here.

One of the best parts about freelance writing is that you don’t have to venture out into the harsh weather every day. As long as you have a good supply of coffee and food, you can hibernate in your little cave…er, home, and watch the weather go by.

Plus, the cold weather, combined with the holiday specials going 24/7 on the television, can really put you in the Christmas (or whichever holiday) spirit! I love all of those shows, as sappy as they might be.

As freelance writers, take advantage of the cold weather and cheerful spirits, and write all of those seasonal articles and blog posts. You can publish them immediately, or plug them into your editorial calendar for next year.

Happy Winter everyone! After such a mild year, it’s no surprise we got hit hard.


Photo Credit: Me!

Categories: Writing Thoughts Tags:

Bring Writing Clients to You

December 5, 2009 2 comments

I believe there are two basic types of freelance writer. On one hand, there is the writer who scours Craigslist and job boards, scrambling for work. On the other, there is the writer who has taken the time to establish their clientele and need not ever query for a writing gig.

Which Writer Are You?

The job board writer has to go through a lot of hoops to meet his goal of landing a new writing client. He must search through countless ads, finding writing gigs for which he qualifie. He must convince the client that he is the best writer for the job, competing against any number of other writers who are just as talented as he is. He must do this consistently, to keep a steady stream of writing work coming in. At times, he may be overloaded, because he can’t afford to say no.

The clientele writer has a wide variety of friends, colleagues, and clients at her disposal. She has carefully built up her freelance writing business, by creating a website that shows off her skills and writing clips. She utilizes social media (moderately!) as a way to connect with new potential clients. Her new contacts find her via referrals, as everyone she knows enjoys working with her, and her thoroughly polished writing speaks for itself. While the beginning steps of her freelance writing career were slow, the time invested in doing it right the first time was well worth it.

This is a Dramatization, Folks!

Obviously, no one person exactly meets all of these generalizations. We could each see a bit of ourselves in each characterization, perhaps leaning one direction or the other. Overall, there is no right or wrong answer here, as each person must choose their own career path.

However, most people would agree that there is a difference between working hard and working smart. Obviously, if you need immediate writing clips, or fast cash yesterday, then job boards will give you immediate gratification. However, if you are into freelance writing for the long haul, you would be wise to invest a little extra time in your work. Besides making sure that each word is your absolute best, the way you work with others is critical. Befriending others on social media sites can give you lots of potential clients, or friends of potential clients, and so on. Each person you treat well is a person who could recommend you to someone else.

Are You a Freelance Employee, or Self-Employed Freelancer?

With job boards, you go through a mini-interview process with each client. They lay out what their project entails, as well as the basic rate of pay they can afford. With some job board clients, the pay may not be all that much. It can feel as though you are at their mercy, as if you quit your full-time job just to collect a bunch of new bosses.

With clientele work, you have already established a cordial, if not friendly relationship with the person in question. Their is a sense of community, of partnership when you work on the writing project for them. You are helping them succeed, which may not be readily apparent (or existent) with job board leads.

Am I Completely Crazy?

What do you think? While I am not knocking all job board leads, nor extolling the virtues of all clientele offers, I believe that the approach you take with your freelance writing career makes all the difference in the world. Do you have suggestions on how to make job board queries seem less like interviews? Or how to bridge the gap between clientele referrals and nameless, faceless Craigslist ads? You tell me. I’d love to hear your opinions!


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A Freelance Writer’s New Beginning

December 4, 2009 3 comments

After an unplanned hiatus, I am back online and slowly recreating my freelance writing career. I am a little older, a little wiser, and I hope that all of the lessons involved will make me a stronger writer. I’ll post more about my experiences offline in upcoming posts, to give a little insight into what happens when a writer stumbles along the freelance path.

One thing you may note, is that I had a blog previously, called Freedom Writing. Sadly, it is no longer in existance, and I don’t plan on reviving it. Instead, I’m starting fresh here. However, when life offers these chances to start over, it is not a “clean slate.” Rather, it is a time to learn, a time to grow from the — sometimes quite literal — fertilizer that came before, and encorporate past mistakes into future growth.

My goals for this blog are simple enough. I will write about this writer’s life, and all it entails. Some days, that may include writing ten articles through a toddler’s temper tantrum. Others may be about a fun book I’ve read, whether or not it is a writing book. No matter what comes through this writer’s mind onto the page, it should prove enlightening and perhaps help you along your freelance writing journey.

You may wonder why I chose that picture for my first post here at KFW. It’s a beautiful picture by my good friend, Joleene Naylor, when she went on a trip to the Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum. Ms. Wilder was one of my favorite childhood authors growing up, writing enchanting tales of her childhood on the prairie. She, among many others, inspired me to become a writer. She was one of my heroes.

Also, I cannot recall if she ever mentioned the “Door to Nowhere” pictured. I would suspect that she would use it to crawl out on the roof below, and daydream to the view of the sunset. I used to daydream all the time, and have not found the time to do so nearly as often as an adult.

It is in the spirit of daydreams, of heroes, and of sunsets that I boldly start again on my freelance writing career.