When things are happening, and clients are hiring and invitations to speak or submit are presenting themselves, then it’s all fun and fabulous. Much of the time, however, nothing is happening. Nada. Zip. Nothing, that is, unless you make it happen.
For me, that is the most challenging part.
Another challenge is that there isn’t one clear road-map on how to do it right. Each of you will have your own patterns and work habits, as well as creative process. When you write, where, how often and for how long, and then how you market yourself while still managing to produce content, are all pieces of the puzzle that you have to figure out and put together in a way that makes the whole picture work for you.
Three things, (there are probably more than three) in particular, have been challenging to me:
1. my most excellent procrastination skills
2. my lack of knowing exactly what to do next
3. my frustrations with administrative duties
Let’s look at these in a little more detail.
I am really good at putting things off.
What I have learned in this writing adventure, is that I NEED deadlines. Deadlines for submission, deadlines to pitch, deadlines to get projects done (even self-imposed ones) make me buckle down, ignore the heaps of laundry and intriguing drama of the US election, and get busy.
I learned this when I realized (and I will be talking about this in my upcoming 100th episode of the Communication Diva podcast) that it is me-myself-and-I that gets in my way. Once I figured that out – and once I realized deadlines are not to be dreaded, but embraced in this line of work – I have been able to recognize my own little shenanigans for what they are, and, after allowing myself one more You-Tube video or Ted talk, am able to refocus and get productive.
Overwhelm is real.
Not sure about you, but my “to-do” list seems to expand to fit whatever paper I happen to have scribbled it on that day. (True confessions: I have little scraps of paper everywhere with things I’m supposed to get done on them. I dare not use the computer for this because then I can’t gleefully cross completed things off, nor does the electronic page ever actually end, so real paper is my main method of madness here.)
My solution to this sense of paralysis over what sometimes feels like the Everest of stuff needing done, is to relax a little about it, keep a sense of humour and to try to remember that the world won’t end if I don’t cross every little thing off the list today. (Although, not putting together the emergency earthquake kit might bring my world closer to an end if I’m not careful.) One step at a time, and as long as I am moving forward in the right direction (and having a little fun and relaxation in there if possible along the way), then I can feel good about what I accomplish each day.
There’s an app for that.
One of the biggest time-wasters for me is figuring out how to do stuff that probably someone else can do faster, more efficiently and far more easily than I can. Take client invoices, for instance. I can create one, and it might take me all sorts of time to make lines and boxes and things, but I can use something like Invoice2go and their free invoice template to do it much more quickly, thereby freeing me up to do something more useful…such as sneaking some Halloween candy from the hiding place before the kids come home. (Just kidding!)
Freelancing is not nearly as romantic and blissful as it is sometimes made out to be, but when you are able to focus in, to get out of your own way and get things done and to use tools and services available to save time and frustration, then it can most certainly be a very rewarding and enjoyable adventure.