By Bill Swan
One of the big things, a huge thing actually, when taking on new projects is to make sure you have the time to complete them all properly. And I have no idea how to tell everyone out there how it would work best for them. But I do know that what I was doing up until recently, wasn’t the best way for me. So I’ll just go from personal experience and you can take it from there.
The whole thing began with me wanting to write. I wanted to write for anybody so badly that I was applying for jobs, projects, forums and any other thing which looked like writing. I found one, then another, then five more; and then it just got really busy. Now, when you still have a part time job you’re working along the way (have to pay the rent somehow right?), and the scheduling between the job and the project deadlines are clashing – well, it isn’t fun time at the zoo basically. To put it simply, eight hour days and eight hour writing sessions leave very little room for much else, including sleep.
Here are a few lessons I learned over the course of time, which I hope will help anyone else out there who comes to this crossroad:
- Don’t take on so many assignments to where it becomes a chore that has to get done. You will start to loose the “want” of writing and it becomes a need other than your own.
- Don’t ever think problems won’t show up. Schedule changes, rewrites, and computer issues do happen – and usually without notice. Always, and this becomes very apparent very quickly, always give your deadlines a padding of at least two extra days in case of problems.
- Don’t get frustrated over little things. The fact that you over estimated yourself is a little thing. The fact that the cat keeps wanting to say hello in the middle of a deadline rush, is also a little thing. If the computer crashes, or you lose the internet on the day of the deadline, that could be a problem.
- Stay in communication with everybody. I don’t know how many times I’ve been told by people on the other end of the email that they appreciated my efforts to at least acknowledge their emails. And people do understand if you email them ahead of deadline to let them know of any delays. Silence will hurt more than a missed deadline.
- Don’t kill yourself getting things done. If you like a busy schedule, that’s one thing; but if you find yourself continuously looking at 2AM trying to push through a deadline, there’s a problem.
- If the writing isn’t fun anymore – it’s time to stop. No, not stop writing, I mean stop and take a look at why it isn’t enjoyable anymore. If you find yourself writing just to meet deadlines, or just to make money for the week, then it’s time to either re-evaluate the projects you are taking on or the amount of work you are taking on. You’re either working too many low paying projects, or you are just taking anything that comes along.
- Keep the freebie work. I know it doesn’t pay money, but I’m guessing the writing didn’t start out being about the money. The free by-lines help keep up the enjoyment of writing, and can be good self promotional stuff as well.
I realized all this when things started crashing down around me over those earlier days. I not only missed deadlines, but dropped one project and had another client ask why he thought he was always at the bottom of my “to-do” list. This is when I discovered I had to sit back and re-evaluate what I was doing. Next, I realized that my blogs, and the by-line work that I loved doing had been put away and almost forgotten. The writing had become more work than writing, and this is never a good thing.
How do you manage your writing work?
Bill Swan is a freelance writer. His website is William Swan Writing Services.