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One Way To Get Your Own Freelance Writing Done

Getting the writing doneI don’t know about you, but as a freelance writer I’ve got clients I write for and then I have my own writing.

My own writing includes this blog and any other writing I generate that isn’t paid for by a client. It includes a couple of book ideas and even some poetry. Usually it’s work I expect to get paid for eventually, hopefully in the form of residual income.

If I were independently wealthy I’d might work exclusively on my own writing projects. Oh, there would still be the occasional ghostwriting project that would catch my attention. After all, part of the joy of ghostwriting is working with interesting folks. But my work would definitely take on a different pace.

And I might keep doing this blog because I enjoy the readers – you – so much.

As it is now, however, I have to divide my efforts.

Working for Writing Clients

I love my clients. Not only the ones I have today and the one’s I’ll have in the future, but the folks who hired me over time. They’ve all helped me support myself and live the life I mostly want to live. Even more than that, almost all of them have taught me something I wouldn’t have learned any other way. And now that I’ve added coaching writers to my list of service I’m having even more fun. It’s great working with other people and other writers.

Having writing clients, however, also means I need to commit serious working time to their projects. Those hours spent writing and coaching also take considerable energy.

All of which means I have less time and energy for my own projects. Don’t get me wrong, I these clients pay me the money I use for my living expenses. I’m grateful. But sometimes it requires some skillful juggling.

Scheduling It All

What can be tough, or so it seems, is to find time for my own writing. It deserves attention just as my writing for clients does.

The only way I’ve found to make sure I’m honoring my own writing as well as my client’s is to block out time for each. Depending on the projects, that may mean finding an hour or so every single working day for me until my project is complete. Other times I’ll find it works better if I do my writing on, for example, Tuesday and Thursday, leaving Monday, Wednesday and Friday for client work.

And sometimes I have to get my own writing done in tiny 10 or 15 minute blocks.

Right now if you looked at my calendar, you’d see time for my own writing – at least an hour – comes right after my first blog entry.Once I’ve completed that hour, I’m free to work on clients or to take previously scheduled coaching calls.

My writing is on my calendar because if I don’t schedule it I tend to put it off forever. And I don’t want to do that.

How do you carve out time for your own writing?


Image from http://www.sxc.hu by Paul Flores

{ 13 comments… add one }
  • Great post! Boy, can I relate to this challenge!

    Thanks for the suggestions in the blog and everyone commenting.
    Helen recently posted..Jun 27- Ghostwriter NeededMy Profile

  • I used to have clerical jobs and they did help me with my prioritizing. But even now since I’ve been out of work for almost a year, it has only been in the last few months that I’ve gotten the discipline to make myself make time for my writing. It is a good feeling to put “freelance writer” down when asked for occupation.

    • Anne

      Good for you for beginning to figure out the self-discipline – you writer you!

  • Hannah

    I write fiction and have a full-time job. I write at night, on the weekend, on my lunch hour (I drag my laptop to work with me) and sometimes on my flash drive if it’s slow at work. It took me five months to produce a 116,700-word first draft novel this way, and for the last three-and-a-half months I’ve been editing. First revision shot it up to 125,000 and now it’s down to 115,000. Woo hoo!

    I am so tired I’d have to check into the hospital to actually rest! Sometimes I dream that I could write full-time, but then I’d have to make a schedule. If I did, I would probably do what I do on the weekends: Mess around in the morning for a while (it’s pure luxury not to have to be anywhere), then get showered and dressed and sit down and work for a while. Break for lunch, then work some more. If I have to write any correspondence or search for information, make time for that too. Research can distract me, but I try to keep it focused the way I did in college, with notes on what I need to find for my piece.

    If it’s going well, the time will fly by. If not, I might find myself knocking around on the Internet for a while, or putting on some music to get the mood right. I think fiction is more loosey-goosey than writing something like a how-to article, say, with research and notes, but I still won’t get anything accomplished if I don’t make myself do it. Fortunately, doing clerical work means I have had to learn to prioritize and organize to get things done, and that helps when I use my time off to write. I’m trying to remember that for the day when I can say “I’m a writer; I work at home.”

    • Anne

      Hannah, you might surprise yourself… I had to train myself to write regularly when I cut the cord to a job job, but I discovered I was trainable, even by myself 😉

  • I’ve just started freelance writing. What I have realized over the past few weeks is that I have to make a schedule for myself. I work from home and now I know what a challenge that can be. The vacuuming, dishes, laundry, and other domestic chores clamor for my attention as I sit and try to work. I find myself staying up until the wee hours and then not getting out of bed until late in the morning, sometimes after noon. I also have to remember to get up and move. It’s so easy to sit for over an hour and not even realize it if you’re in the zone. So I’ve decided that I’m going to make a schedule just like I had when I did nails and stick to it. Hopefully that will help me get more organized. I also need to invest in some filing supplies so my notebooks and folders aren’t all over the place.

    • Anne

      When I first started freelancing I had to go out to breakfast with a yellow tablet — in the days before real laptops — or I’d go back to sleep after I got the kids off to school. Probably took several months of that before I could trust myself to stay home.

  • admin

    I dunno, Lorry, I get a lot of pleasure in the ghostwriting I do and the checks I get to cash.

  • Lorry Schoenly

    Over the weekend I schedule out the week with personal writing projects during my freetime each evening. Right now writing is my second career but I see from the article and posts that personal writing is like that for everyone. We have to bring in the bucks in order to do the additional writing that brings fulfillment.

  • admin

    Isaac, drafting over TV can work and yes, you can create a better schedule for yourself… it takes some practice.

    Devon, I love your dedication to your craft.

    Esther, a blog won’t provide discipline to write, that has to come from you. The blog will sit there empty of posts if you don’t write a post. Writing well and making it a career requires tons of self-discipline… which you can learn a bit at a time.

  • Esther

    Dear Getting it Started: I write only part-time and then only when I get my head so full that I have to write or I will forget the ideas that come to me.
    Is the Blog a good way to start writing? I have not done much of that except to respond to someone else’s ideas that appeal to me.

  • I do my first 1K of fiction early in the morning, after yoga, but before I start the rest of my day. That takes the pressure off. Then I bounce between client projects, depending upon payment and deadline, and then, if possible, go back to my own writing at least once more during the day.

    But that first 1K of fiction has to happen before I’m “tainted by the day.”

    Devon Ellington’s last blog post..Saturday, March 7, 2009

  • Isaac

    I don’t carve out enough time for my own writing, I’m sad to say. Usually, I do my own writing at night, after my wife and son have gone to bed. Sometimes, I even do it on legal pad during NBA games/commercials. I need a better schedule.

    Isaac’s last blog post..How Twitter Makes Me a Better Writer

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