Posts Tagged ‘overcoming fear’

Your 7 Favorite Posts About Freelance Writing — So Far

Posted in Blog on July 16th, 2014 by Carol Tice – 20 Comments

Seven great blog posts about freelance writingHey, writers!

Looking for a little summertime inspiration to get your freelance writing in gear?

Well, I noticed that my January roundup of the most popular posts of 2013 was the most popular post I’ve done here on the blog so far this year. Apparently, you find these best-of compendiums useful.

So I’m here to help with another handy set of popular posts — these are from the first half of 2014. I’m actually out in the Internetless countryside in Colorado right now, but wanted to keep you stocked with useful info to grow your freelance writing income while I’m gone.

Here are the seven Make a Living Writing posts that had the most readers the week they published:

  1. Why You Need to Go For Your Freelance Writing Dream Now
  2. What the Elance-oDesk Merger Means for Freelance Writers
  3. I Quit My Job to Be a Freelance Writer: What Was I Thinking?
  4. Writers: Soar Like an Olympian With These 4 Key Traits
  5. Use This Simple Tool to Move Forward With Your Freelance Writing
  6. Writing for Guardian Liberty Voice: 10 Writers’ Stories
  7. The 4 Worst Places for Freelance Writers to Start

Enjoy!

Carol


What was your favorite post about freelance writing this year so far?
Leave a comment and share a link.

 

 

 

How to Get Over Your Paralyzing Article Writing Fears

Posted in Blog on July 6th, 2014 by Carol Tice – 24 Comments

Anxious freelance writerIt’s a long way to go from the spark of a story idea to a finished article that appears in a magazine.

Along the way, many writers get stuck. Fears stop them in their tracks.

The years go by, and they don’t get published. Their dream of seeing their byline in a magazine falls by the wayside.

Writer fears on parade

Among the fears I hear a lot:

“I’m worried my story idea isn’t good enough.”

“I’m not sure which editor to send it to, so I gave up.”

“I’m scared to do interviews! Are there any articles I can write where I won’t have to talk to anyone?”

“I write my draft, but then I’m afraid to send it in.”

“I had an editor ask me to write an article, but then I just froze.”

“I got my draft back and my editor wanted all these changes. Now I’m crushed! And I think my writing must not be any good.”

Here’s the one I saw recently that really tore it for me. One writer posted in the Freelance Writers Den forums:

“I sent this pitch to my first choice magazine three weeks ago.

“When would it be safe to send this to another publication?”

Okay. Let’s stop this, right now.

Is it safe?

If you’ve been living a corporate, day-job kind of life, freelancing can seem scary. Nothing is assured.

And that leaves you alone with your insecurities rattling around in your head, filling up your thoughts.

The first thing to do is to stop thinking this way, and reframe how you think about the things you need to do as a freelancer that scare you.

Here are three ways to attack and overcome these fears.

The worst-case scenario

First, ask yourself: What are you really afraid of, anyway? What’s the worst that could happen, in any of these scenarios above?

In all cases, I’m going to take a flier and guess that your life is not in danger here.

Maybe your pride gets a little dinged. An editor says “no.”

So what? There are a lot of editors in the sea. You move on and try another one, is all.

When you think of it that way…what’s so scary? Nothing. Freelancing is completely safe to try. Just go for it.

Life isn’t safe

The second way to think about freelancing fears is to view them in the right context.

What is really safe in this world? Nothing.

Not your day job. Not your lifespan. Not a thing. Each breath involves risk. And so does freelancing.

So why not dare?

Freelancing favors the bold. It’s about taking risks and seeing what happens, and learning from that and doing better next time.

See it as an experiment. Emotionally detach yourself a bit from it and view it like a scientist. What could happen if I sent that query? Wrote that article? Let’s find out!

Try, measure, improve, repeat. That’s a successful freelancer’s path — and the road out of being mired in fears and not moving forward.

Up your skills

Finally, if you really feel you’re not moving forward because of a knowledge gap, you could learn more about article writing to build your confidence. Might give you the boost over the fear hump that you need.

To answer that last writer’s question, it was “safe” to send that query to another publication all along. Or as safe as freelancing will ever be. Feel that danger, and do it anyway.

That’s the only way to succeed as a freelance writer.

What’s your biggest article-writing fear? Share it — or your own fear-busting tips — in the comments.

 

5 Super-Easy Ways Freelance Writers Can Stand Out

Posted in Blog on May 21st, 2014 by Carol Tice – 53 Comments

One freelance writer bug stands outDo you feel overwhelmed by all the competition out there for freelance writers?

I recently got an email from a writer who told me she was frantic to find a niche where she could somehow be noticed despite all the “entrenched” writers who would be nearly impossible to beat.

Actually, it’s not like that.

Mediocrity is the norm in much of the freelance-writing world, and there’s plenty of opportunity to stand out. If you don’t believe me, go to your Chamber of Commerce, get a copy of all the brochures out of the display, and go home and read them all. You’ll see they’re not all exactly Shakespeare.

Besides simply writing competently — which in itself can make you stand out in some industries — what else can you do? Here are my top five favorite easy ways to win clients over:

1. Don’t be a flake

I wish I had a dime for every writer who told me they got an editor’s feedback on a story with some edit requests, or they got a request to pitch an editor — and then they freaked out and never sent anything back. Just walked away from the opportunity. Because I’d be retired now and not needing to write this blog post.

Why do writers do these things to themselves? I don’t know, but it means you can win points by simply being responsive.

Tell you a scary story about this point — I recommended a colleague once not long ago, whom I’d happily worked with on a previous gig, to a prospect I didn’t have time to take on. I knew her writing and interviewing skills were great, so I didn’t have any hesitation about passing her name on.

Unfortunately, the client got back to me later to share that after many delays, this writer had totally flaked out on him. She never turned in the assignment! He ended up having to change his whole project around because time ran out and her piece had to be scrapped.

Of course, I was mortified to hear someone I referred let a client down. And you know I’m never recommending her again.

You’ll be amazed how far simply being reliable can take you in the freelance-writing biz. Because a lot of writers are busy being artistes and blowing their deadlines.

2. Proof your work

I know — you’re thinking, “Doesn’t everybody?” No. They don’t.

You’d be surprised how many writers think the first thing they jot down should be turned in, or emailed off to an editor as a pitch. If you’re bad at proofing, try to swap some writing with a friend and get them to catch your typos.

Well-proofed work makes editors less suspicious that your article is sloppily researched and reported. Instead, they’ll think you’re brilliant.

3. Don’t be a diva

Writers who’re used to writing on their own blog or their novel have a tendency to fall in love with their words.

This emotion has no place in the world of freelance writing. Here, you write to please a client. Whatever they want is what you need to deliver.

After they hate your first draft and want 20 things different in it, the correct response is, “Sure thing.” Not a big snarky tantrum about how they’re killing your precious prose.

Also don’t be a boundary-pusher, always asking for more time or a cover byline. Just do you work well, and you will be rewarded.

4. Don’t be a basket case

Mentoring 1,000+ writers in my Freelance Writers Den community has taught me this: A great many of us are a tad on the mentally fragile side.

Look at a writer sideways, and often, they implode. One rough week with an annoying client, and they’re ready to pack it in. One rejection letter, and they’re devastated.

For instance, here are a couple of emails I recently got about rejected queries:

“Just got my first rejection and am heartbroken. I feel really bad, but know I should just man-up and carry on. I worked really hard on my pieces.

“How long did it take before you could just take it on the chin? This feels terrible, but I don’t want to waste time mourning.”–Michelle

“If a fairly large, local consumer magazine responds to a query with a note saying that they don’t see a place for the story in their mag but good luck placing it elsewhere, is it safe to assume it was a decent query, or is it typical for editors to send out generic rejections like that?

“It’s my first real attempt at getting into a consumer magazine, and I’m feeling despondent about the reply I got (after 2.5 weeks).”–Talia

As a freelance writer, you can’t do this to yourself. You can’t sit counting the days until you get a response from an editor. And you can’t fall apart every time you have a setback.

You also can’t waste time trying to read the tea leaves in a rejection letter to suss out what the editor’s secret meanings might be. You’ll never really know.

The correct response to a query rejection is to continue on immediately, as if nothing has happened. Ideally, you did that the moment you pressed ‘send’ on the query, and have another dozen queries out by the time you hear that ‘no,’ so it isn’t your whole world crumbling that this didn’t work out.

This is business, and you need to be mentally tough, deal with disappointment fast, and keep right on marketing. Learn more about writing queries, too. Michelle sounds like maybe she was sending in completed articles instead of writing a query, which generally gets poorer results.

If you don’t need a month off to second-guess yourself or to mourn that one single query letter wasn’t accepted, you’ll be able to get a lot more work done that could find you clients.

5. Up your skills

At this point, there are plenty of writers who can write a blog post, or a short article. The question is, what else do you know how to write that commands higher rates?

If the answer is nothing, think about learning a specialized area — how to write case studies or annual reports, for instance. I’ve done both and they pay great.

Or hit the motherlode of reliable, great pay and learn how to write a sales page. Clients will always pay well for writing when they can see it directly results in more sales and income for their business.

Maybe this one is a bit less easy than the other four tips I’ve listed, and might cost a few bucks. But investing in your business is a major way to move yourself out of the mass of starving writers and create a viable niche for your freelance writing business.

How do you stand out as a freelance writer? Leave a comment and share your approach.

 

 

 

 

How to Stop the Psychodramas and Get Your Writing Done

Posted in Blog on May 4th, 2014 by Carol Tice – 64 Comments

Too much drama keeps freelance writer from working

“My freelance writing business is in trouble,” Julia told me this week.

“It’s because I get depression, and when I’m depressed, I can’t write.”

This is a big problem, and I think all writers get something similar to Julia’s problem at some point.

Fortunately, there is a way out of this problem. It begins with understanding what the problem really is.

From writing problem to rule-making

Writers love to create rules about what we can accomplish under what circumstances.

For instance, we can’t write if we’re underslept, or it’s after lunchtime (my creative time is early in the day, please!).

Or it’s not sunny out today. Or the neighbor is mowing the lawn right near our window. Or, depending on your personal fixation, unless we have our three antique china pigs sitting on the edge of our desk in a perfect row.

This writer had a rule that she couldn’t write anything when she was depressed.

She tried to write when she was depressed, and it was difficult. Instead of pushing through it or figuring out some ways to cope with it, she began to worry that she could never write when depressed.

Soon, she had created a rule about it in her mind: I cannot write when depressed.

This rule did not create happiness. Quite the opposite — she lived in terror of getting a writing assignment with only a few weeks to complete. If depression hit, she would be unable to write!

So she wasn’t sending query letters anymore. She was frozen. And her dreams of building a viable freelance writing business were in danger of vaporizing.

Coming back to reality

The important thing to realize when we make rules about our writing is that they aren’t real. It’s just an idea that lives inside your head.

It’s not an immutable law of nature, like gravity.

Being depressed does not mean you’ve had a lobotomy, or your arms have been cut off. It is still physically possible for you to write in your less-than-ideal circumstances.

Yes, it might be harder, or take longer. You might need to rewrite more. Because it’s not perfect.

But you can do it.

When you create can’t-write rules around phobias or problems you have, you’re creating a psychodrama. A self-created world of made-up rules that exists only inside your mind. It is not reality.

If you want to be able to write anytime, anywhere, under any circumstances, you have to become conscious of this fact. That it’s just a story you’ve told yourself, about why you can’t write.

Then you’re ready to break your made-up writing rules so you can meet clients’ deadlines and earn a living at this.

Action trumps drama

If you’re wondering how I know it’s possible to write under any circumstances, it’s because I’ve had to do it. So many times.

I used to think I definitely could not produce publishable writing if I didn’t get a good night’s sleep, for instance. Also if people were yelling at me…it takes me a long time to emotionally recover from that. I couldn’t possibly be expected to write anything that day.

To name just two rules I had.

While I’m thrilled with how my freelance writing life is going, my personal life is not all sunshine. So I often find myself needing to write under less-than-optimal circumstances. Say, while children scream and fight downstairs and my husband handles that in a way other than what I’d do.

Luckily, I have my staff-writing days to pull from for the knowledge that in fact, I can write if I have to. When putting food on the table depends on you turning in four stories every week, you learn to write no matter what.

I have gone into work as a staff writer on one hour of sleep, confident that I Could Not Possibly Turn In My Story.

But somehow, faced with that deadline, I’d drink some tea, or maybe mini-nap with my head on my desk for 10 minutes. Or eat two candy bars.

And by the end of the day, my article would be written.

Do you need to write?

Here’s the magic: Once you challenge your made-up rule and prove it wrong, it dissolves. Its hold on you is lost.

You have to face the truth that your psychodrama was just in your head. It’s an excuse. Not a real thing. You can muscle your way through it and beat it, and get the writing done.

Yes, it’s harder to write when things aren’t perfect. But when are they ever perfect? Right.

So it’s an important skill for freelance writers to learn to bust their self-scripted limitations and write. It’s tough that first time that you slog through writing a story on an hour of sleep…but after that, you never doubt that you can pull it out again. You’re ready to take writing assignments with the confidence that you can deliver, no matter what life throws your way that week.

What’s often missing that allows the psychodrama to win out is the sense that you have to write. It’s important.

You may not have a deadline today, but developing the ability to write on a daily basis is critical to success in any writing field.

Life is short, and you have things you want to tell the world.

Feel that urgency, and man up and do the writing, if you want this to be your career. Even though life sucks today.

What’s your writer psychodrama? Leave a comment and tell us, and then tell us how you overcome it.