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Letting the Words Flow

January 14, 2010 1 comment

I’ve been working hard on my writing business, increasing my productivity and putting myself out there. Yet I found myself encountering a mental haze, that has been draining  my enthusiasm and making writing so much harder! It’s the “blank page syndrome”, that apprehension felt when you have to begin, and all the doubts come flooding back.

Blank Page Syndrome (BPS)

BPS has been hitting hard, and I’ve been trying all of my normal techniques to push past it. Writing anything just to clutter up the screen, picking the easiest writing project on my list to do first, and even —gasp— waking up earlier to keep my nagging editor in bed.

Nothing worked.

So, instead of ignoring my apprehension, it’s time to face it head on. What am I afraid of? What is clogging the word pipes in my brain?

BPS Was Not Due to Writing Issues

As it turns out, my writing fog had nothing to do with writing. After all, I know I can write, and that others will happily pay for my work. I’m comfortable with all my projects, and my business is growing at a nice pace.

Instead, my BPS is due to the other variables in my life, that are wholly unrelated to writing. We’re looking to move within the next month, and my writing needs to cover all of those expenses. (Which it will, but the thought of it is overwhelming all the same.)

My two little angels, who are so happy to have Mommy working at home again, are still rather young to understand that I’m working, and not available for playtime or every other whim they may have. I’m just waiting for the next screaming match to interrupt me!

Also, while I have learned and grown over the past year of freelancing, the lessons I’ve learned have hit hard! (Yes, I have the bumps on my head to prove it!) I’m on the constant lookout for burnout, overextending myself, and pursuing ideas before I have a solid plan in place. Yet at the moment, these are not things for me to be worrying about. I’ve been very careful, and am reaping those rewards!

Convincing Your BPS to Let You Write

So, how am I to address all of these concerns? By putting safety nets in place to convince my BPS that everything is going to be all right. Setting up a framework, a solid structure to my writing conditions that reminds me to quit worrying, and let the writing flow.

I’ve outlined my budget (in great detail!) explaining exactly how much I need to make each day to meet my moving goals. I’ve turned the weight of a looming expense into an enjoyable short-term goal. I also imagine my enjoyment at reaching this goal — as I truly, deeply want to move as soon as I can!

Working with kids can be a little trickier. I’ve considered the times of day when they are the most settled, and am scheduling my writing times to coincide with that. (Mornings. Icky.) I also have the Stay-at-Home Daddy available to address their most pressing concerns when I’m writing, so I don’t need to worry about it.

As for the potential threat of burnout, I listen to myself and my body. If I’m tired, I take a break, get a snack, go do some laundry. (There’s always laundry with two kids!) I breathe, pace myself, and remember that working at home is much better for my health. I also budget so the bills get paid first, and the rest of the writing for the month is gravy. That budget does double duty, so much good in all the figures!

How Do You Combat BPS?

What do you do to relieve Blank Page Syndrome? What issues do you need to address to see your writing flow? Share your stories and your tips!

~Kimberlee

Photo Credit: Tanakawho

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!

~Kimberlee

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.

~Kimberlee

Photo Credit: Me!

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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.

~Kimberlee