Today we welcome fellow RD Jackie Durand as a guest poster here on the site. She has some amazing tips for staying focused and reaching your business goals as a writer.
Freelance writing is a long game. Despite your stiffening fingers, and the load of inspired pitches cast out into the universe, not a single editor has requested your services. Not even a bite. As doubt quickly settles in, nobody would blame you for throwing in the towel. This is too hard.
Weathering a constant influx of rejection is part of the freelance job description, and only the strong survive. Today, curling up in a ball and retreating to a job you hate feels like a viable career move. It’s time to uncoil from the fetal position and crush your feelings of inadequacy by creating a confidence-boosting daily routine.
You need a schedule
The biggest allure of freelance writing is working when and where you want to. The problem is, you’re probably not as productive as you think you are. Its easy to get distracted when you really only have to answer to yourself.
Block out your work hours on your calendar and show up on time, just as you would with a nine to five. You don’t have to work a ton, but you need to be focused and productive in the times you choose to clock in.
Set daily and weekly markers to feel structured instead of aimless. Sending out pitches is the worst and often goes unrecognized, so set a goal to send out a certain number each week. Reaching that goal by deadline boosts confidence and makes you feel like you’re making progress, and you are!
Make a daily to-do list
There’s nothing worse than staring down an 8-hour block of time with no conceivable plan of action. Productivity and motivation come in short bursts. Studies show that productive people work with the most intention and focus for about forty minutes, then break for about twenty minutes to rest and recharge. Remove distractions like social media or email, and try setting a timer for forty minutes. What can you accomplish in that time?
- Include small items on your list and complete them quickly. Checking things off builds confidence to do more.
- Break big tasks, like building a writing portfolio, into manageable sections that can be completed in less than an hour.
- Alternate creative sessions with logical tasks, like answering emails or making out bills to keep it fresh.
- Include one item that pushes past your comfort zone, and do that scary thing early in the day.
- Work on passion projects, menial tasks, laundry and naps to create a fine balance between #bestlife and #hustle.
Find connections in other writers
Working alone comes with a bit of boredom and listlessness. Your most time-consuming relationship is with your computer screen, and that’s not okay! It’s easy to beat yourself up after a full week seeing nothing but rejection emails, or no response at all. You’re not alone.
There are people out there just like you that understand the struggle. Make it a priority to talk to people (gasp!). Get on the phone or make time to meet someone in person to unplug. Save your mental health and possibly make a great business connection at the same time. Check out Ana Reisdorf’s Facebook group RD’s Who Write to connect with freelance RDs just like you!
Consider a change of scenery
With laundry to do and a new season of your favorite show out on Netflix, distractions are abound working from home. Boost focus and energy with a new landscape at your local library, coffee shop, or shared work space.
If you can’t get out, move to another room. Find a new perspective by sitting in a different chair, or finding a sunny spot on the floor for your next brainstorming session. Ditch the screen and think of new pitch ideas with pen and paper. The back of an old envelope works pretty well too!
Enhance your portfolio
Write more! Hone your skills and practice your craft by keeping a personal blog or journal. Building a killer writing style takes time. Even if there is no monetary gain, you’re building new writing samples and drawing attention to yourself. Offer to guest post for a colleague or company that you would like to work with. Mimic the real client experience and learn to accept editing requests or critique like a pro.
Keep Working Towards Your Business Goals as a Writer
Building a freelance writing career is hard. You likely won’t be met with high-paying clients throwing work at you, so prepare to hustle and work hard to reach your business goals as a writer. Yes, it would be easier to give up, but if this is the career of your dreams you have to keep moving forward. One day you will reach the place of momentum and all this hard work will finally pay off.
Jackie Durand is a Connecticut-based registered dietitian and freelance writer. She enjoys creating personalized meal plans for clients and writing articles for her blog. www.JDNutritionLLC.com/blog