When it comes to working, being a part-time freelance writer is really great.
Working “part-time as a freelance writer” may mean something different for each person who does it. Some people will only write, but not full-time, maybe around 20 hours a week, while others will freelance write, and do something else for work.
I fall in category B: I freelance write part-time because I have other work that’s consistent and “writing adjacent.”
My non-freelance writing work keeps me busy.
I often feel like I add the freelance writing on top of my “regular work”.
Having both consistent work and doing freelance writing is great for my productivity and for my bank account!
However, I’ve found that the beauty of only being a part-time freelance writer can also be a drawback.
It’s nice that I don’t have to rely entirely on freelance writing for my income; freelancing can sometimes be unpredictable. Living in the Bay Area, CA, with kids, I am grateful for all of the work that I have.
When freelance writing is slow, I don’t immediately go into stress mode.
However, I’ve realized that I can also lose sight of the bigger picture of freelance writing when I have so many other jobs I’m working on. I still meet the deadlines for the assignments that I have, but I realized recently that I’ve been visiting Contena weekly instead of daily, I haven’t been pitching anyone, and I haven’t kept up with my favorite Facebook groups where I tend to find really great calls for pitches and job listings.
So, this whole part-time freelance writer thing can be hard to stay focused on when it’s your other job. It’s too easy to put the job search/networking part of freelancing on the back-burner when you have other work.
What can you do if you’ve realized your freelance writing has taken a back-burner to your other work?
Revaluate your goals
Take time to check in with yourself: has your freelance writing slowed down because you’re really busy, or because you’re not as motivated? Maybe your goals have shifted? That’s okay, but it’s important for you to figure out what’s going on.
If you really do want to build your writing back up, set goals for yourself, being very specific for what you’ll do to help move your freelance writing forward, for example, to search Contena 3 days/ week and pitch 2 new articles a week.
2. Do your freelance writing-related tasks first thing
When I’m busy, I start with the most pressing tasks. Makes sense, right? Yes, but what ends up happening is that the items on my to-do list of “check Contena” or “look in Facebook groups for calls for articles” get moved to the next day.
And then the next day.
And on, and on.
Instead, if you start your day with spending even 20 minutes on your job search, or making sure you check off your two job-search or networking related tasks. Then, you’ve done them! They’re out of the way, and you’re moving your freelancing forward. You’re still very likely to get done everything else because those tasks are important.
Now, if you work a traditional job, you might have to challenge yourself to get up early and get these things done before work, or on your lunch break. Basically, find a way to prioritize the freelance writing tasks, even though they’re not as urgent or timely as the other tasks on your list.
When I’m busy, not only do I write less, but I read less. And that’s a problem because, for many writers, reading is inspiring. It informs you, gets your wheels turning, and can help you feel more driven to create.
So, if you’ve noticed you’re not as focused on your job-creation efforts, add in more reading! Books, magazines, blog posts- whatever! Hopefully, you’ll find ideas that you want to write about; maybe you’ll be inspired to send that pitch to an editor you connected with a while back, or you’ll simply get more motivated.
4. Do something else creative
Maybe you want to write, but part of why you’re not feeling it is that you’re mentally spent. That’s common when you have other work in addition to your writing. Even if writing is your sole job, many of us can’t force the creation of words.
There are ways to find your inspiration again, and one great way is to get your creative juices flowing, but not specific to writing.
You can draw, color, paint, knit, do woodwork, take a dance class- whatever! When you tap into your creative part of your brain, but not requiring yourself to put that down on paper, you may find that you feel more motivated to get back to writing after.
5. Read your previous work
I don’t know about you, but sometimes I read things I’ve written and I’m like, “Wow- I wrote that?! It’s good!” Those articles reignite my fire, remind me that I enjoy writing and that I can bring value to the people who read my work.
If you’re going through a bit of a slump, google your name and find the articles you’ve published. Or, work on updating your portfolio so that you’ve got your best clips front and center for anyone who might want to hire you.
Being a freelance writer can have ups and downs, both with the work we do, and the feelings we have about the work. Since this is a creative job, there will be times we don’t have as much creativity; or we don’t have as much time, or focus, or whatever!
When you hit those times, notice what’s going on, take some time to reflect, and then try one or more of these ideas to help you get back on track. And, remember, it’s okay to take a little break if you need or want to.
That’s part of the beauty of freelance writing- you can pick it back up at any time!