Sally is a business communications coach who gives workshops on how to keep your professional reputation squeaky-clean and drama-free.
If you're earning a living as a freelance writer, you already know that writing jobs come and go. Sometimes the workload is so heavy that you don't know how you'll keep up. At other times, the job offers are so slow that you wonder if your internet has been cut off: Hello? Where is everyone?
As a freelancer, on those days when life is filled with roses and sunshine, it's easy to stay confident and upbeat. It's when the storms roll in—and they will roll in—that your mental toughness will be put to the test.
– Steve Slaunwhite, author of The Wealthy Freelancer.
Indeed, there will be periods when it seems like there are no new writing jobs coming down the pike. But that’s no excuse to sit around being idle. There are always things you can do to move towards your goal of making it as a writer. (And yes, you can make it as a writer!)
If you think you can sit on your laurels in between writing gigs, remember the words of Lawrence Kasdan: "Being a writer is like having homework every night for the rest of your life."
There are plenty of things you can do in between writing contracts. It is possible to keep pushing your writing career forward even when you aren't doing paid writing work.
1. Upgrade Your Skills
Not everyone who has become a successful freelancer started off with a journalism degree or a long list of professional writing credentials. Some people develop their writing skills through a combination of on-the-ground experience and ongoing professional development. Whatever your credentials are, consider taking some night classes or online courses to boost your writing skills while waiting for the next client to call. Set a timeline and a budget for your ongoing professional development as a writer.
2. Measure Your Progress Towards Your Writing Goals
When the writing jobs keep pouring in, it can be hard to keep your bigger writing aspirations front and center. If you want to earn a living as a full-time writer, you should be measuring your progress and looking at areas where you need to develop stronger writing skills. A great time to review your list of annual writing goals is when you don’t have any freelance jobs on the go. When you're busy doing freelance work, it's easy to lose sight of your big picture writing goals.
3. Have Some Fun
In life, there is work and then there is play. When you are in between writing contracts, keep your muse entertained by doing some playful and artistic writing projects. You’ll need your muse to be energized once the paid work starts coming in so give her some extra attention while you’ve got the time. Writer Julia Cameron, author of The Artist’s Way says that writers and artists should take some time out and go on Artist’s Dates with themselves. Create a personal blog. Write some handwritten notes with colorful gel pens. Go see a play. Head outside and take some photos for your next article.
4. Get on Top of Your Paperwork!
If you struggle to keep accurate bookkeeping records when you’re juggling publishing deadlines, then there’s no excuse for not using the downtime between writing jobs to catch up on your paperwork. (Your accountant will thank you.)
5. Keep up With the Latest Trends in the Publishing Industry
When you're not working on a freelance writing project, use your spare time to catch up on current publishing news and changes in the print and web magazine business. Subscribe to online writing magazines and blogs so that you can keep your ear to the ground for important literary events, contest deadlines, and writing conferences.
6. Find a Steady Stream of Writing Job Offers
The best way to keep yourself busy and make money as a freelance writer is to treat your existing writing clients and editors well.
- Be a breath of fresh air to work with. Focus on your clients’ needs and work with them to get the job done. Difficult people don't get the callbacks.
- Try to meet face to face with your editors and clients once in a while. Everyone likes to put a face to a name.
- Don’t drop off the face of the earth. Even if you know your last contract was a one-time deal, keep in touch with past clients. Make sure they always know how to reach you. You never know when they’ll refer you to a friend or colleague.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
© 2013 Sally Hayes
How do you keep busy in between writing jobs?
Kimberly Schimmel from North Carolina, USA on June 04, 2013:
Love the quote about homework!
MG Singh from UAE on May 05, 2013:
Very Informative post. Voted up
JKPenn from New York, NY on May 04, 2013:
Great article with nice insights! According to these tips I'm on the right track. Thanks for sharing.