A Guest Post by William (Dann) Alexander.
It was not too long ago that I returned from a holiday road trip to find a gift parcel from a friend in the States. The gift was Stephen King’s brilliant publication “On Writing.” I took to digging into the book right away.
King remains one of the most disciplined workers in this business, so his information and insight proved very valuable to me.
At the time I was still writing mostly political and opinionated material while sending out very few freelance queries. I was a first-year student and was finding as much time as possible, within what little time I had to write anything that was not a school paper.
King’s book, combined with what regular lunch-time meetings with an inspiring local journalist, did ultimately assist me in formulating the self-discipline I am still perfecting today. My fascination with how people work continues. My intention in asking colleagues about their methods is not to steal their work ethic. I would rather borrow elements that I feel might benefit me and use them as ingredients into forming my own work routines.
If you are in this business then that means you have some sort of ambition. That ambition is a vehicle that needs to be fuelled and driven constantly in order to keep your output going.
I keep many notebooks and binders around different places of my home. If I can pick up a pen and hammer out a hundred words in a short period of time then I am working. It is critical for me to manually write whenever possible. If you really want to create work, then you need to start with something and fit it into whatever time you can find for it. If free writing has taught me anything, it has taught me that ideas for content could literally come from nothing in those unexpected moments.
I make a point of starting out my day as early as possible. Writing is often my biggest motivating factor in even rolling out of bed in the morning. More often I will torture myself by leaving something the day before unfinished even when I have the next sentence ready for the page. This way, I always have something to return to when it is time to work again.
To newer freelancers, as you develop and find out what works best for you in how you work, remember gaining experience is of most significance. Avoid content mills, but seek out opportunities to prove yourself with lower paying jobs. I am not suggesting that you spend your entire career writing for a cent per word. I took a few clients on writing for less than ten cents per word just to gain experience and build a writing resume. Once that experience is under your belt, you are in a better position to seek out work at much better pay. Gain confidence you need to challenge yourself to dig into higher markets.
By writing, you are working. By learning, you are developing. By becoming disciplined, you are creating your own writing identity. Once you feel your work ethic is refined, run with it! At the same time, always be open to positive change.
What kind of writing discipline do you maintain? Tell us about it.
Canada’s Dann Alexander is a Freelance Writer, Social Media Nerd and once in a while Bass Player operating under the banner of his company, Frogsong Productions . He recently completed his first book titled Planned UnParenthood – Creating a Life Without Procreating and is shopping it for publication. You can follow him on Twitter: @WriterDann