Elance recently sent out an email with links to an article by Ed Gandia, co-author of The Wealthy Freelancer called 6 Painless Ways to Boost Your Productivity as a Freelancer.
It’s a decent article with six workable ideas. I disagree with how he sets his business hours because he includes things like the gym and shopping while I do those outside my much shorter day – but I take his meaning. I also tend to focus for something like 30 minutes before taking a couple of minute break – again, the gist of the idea is a good one; how we each work it out is likely to be individual.
I’m not sure, however, that I agree with the premise – that writers tend to allow distractions and that productivity is the key to a successful writing career.
Most of the writers I know, once they got the hang of it, are highly disciplined about their work. They write regularly, have become good at editing their own work and are generally doing most of what they need to do to be successful.
What’s missing is not productivity but self-worth
What’s missing for many, I think, is not productivity, but a real recognition of the worth of their work. This is, for most of us, measured by the money we earn.
The question becomes then not how to be more productive but how to earn more money with the writing they’re already producing.
Maybe this is on my mind because a new writer I know was recently doubting she had the talent to even write for a content mill. When I went to her blog she was writing intelligently and well about business communications. I could only conclude that she had no idea how good and valuable her writing is.
So how are we to know if our writing is worth anything at all? There are several ways:
- Start submitting to magazines and other places that pay decently – Writer’s Market is still the best source for these efforts. For a new writer I’d actually suggest sending articles out on spec – that is, over the transom, paying particular attention to markets that say they like having new writers. Yes, there will be rejection, but that’s part of the process, but if you’re a decent writer and smart about where you start submitting you’ll find yourself making some sales, which is where it starts.
- Work inside for awhile. I learned how good my writing was when I took a magazine job and began to watch other writers. It turned out I was faster then most of them and most of the time my copy needed less editing. I don’t know why, but it was good to know. You can create a similar instructive environment by joining or starting a writing group.
- Compare your writing with other’s. There are plenty of blogs around. Read a post on several of your favorites and ask yourself honestly how your writing compares. This requires you to step back away from your fears but you can learn a lot about your own writing from this exercise.
If, as I suspect, you find you can write reasonably well, it’s likely that you don’t need to be more productive in your writing but more aggressive in your marketing. Do it well and you’ll find you can increase your income – perhaps to the point you can actually work part time, productively of course.
Image from http://www.sxc.hu