How to Stay Focused during Challenging Times as a Freelance Writer
While working as a freelance writer is a rewarding and interesting career, you will certainly experience periods of less creativity and heightened burnout. Maybe you won’t be getting as much sleep as you need, or maybe you will be going through some personal challenges. Whatever the case, focus is not always readily available in the life of a freelance writer.
Here’s what you can do to stay on track, even on a bad day:
Set Yourself Working Hours
Since freelancing gives you the opportunity to come up with your own rules, set your day up so that you work during your most productive time of day. If you are an early bird, aim to get some writing done in the morning. If you are more focused in the afternoon, run your errands in the morning, and write later in the day.
Your schedule may clash with those of your friends and family, but due to the nature of your work, it’s best to adjust it so that you can get the most out of your creative waves.
But Stop Pushing When You Can’t Get There
There will be days when you can’t get a word down on paper, even during your productive hours. When this happens, don’t push yourself too hard. You can try to take a break and come back to work later, but if you have nothing to give, give yourself the day off.
You’ll be surprised how much more you are able to get done after some rest. Don’t beat yourself up in any way, and do something fun and relaxing. Being negative will only cost you more, and a day off can do wonders for your writing.
Set Yourself a Specific Goal
Working towards a specific goal always helps to stay focused and provides that bit of motivation you may need to get you through a rough day. For example, your goal might be to earn more money.
If you motivate yourself by imagining a future paycheck that allows you to finally take that holiday you’ve always dreamed of or treat yourself to something else, you will find it much easier to write even when you’re not feeling all that inspired.
Remember Why You Love Writing
In order to become a successful freelance writer, you need to love what you do. Even if you are very talented with words but find it very difficult to write when you don’t feel like it, you won’t make it in the industry.
When the going gets tough, remind yourself why you love to write. Even if it has something to do with the paycheck, the opportunities the job provides, or the roof over your head: try to remember why you started freelancing in the first place.
This exercise can quickly get you over a hurdle, as you start to relive all the positive experiences you’ve had with writing. Don’t forget that even the people who truly love their jobs and are grateful they get to do them every day have tough times and want to stay in bed all day.
Work on Your Skills
If you’re not in the mood to do your job, you might want to focus on the other important element of your freelance career: improving your skills.
In order to be a successful freelance writer, you need to be good at more than just writing. You need to be able to find clients and pitch to them, for starters. You also need to know how to negotiate, do research, write reports, and most likely write all kinds of different content.
Taking the time to hone some of these important freelancing skills can make you feel like you’re still working on something important without requiring you to come up with new words for your clients. It can certainly serve as a very welcome break.
Do an Extra Round of Checkups
When you’re unable to focus, chances are you will be making more mistakes than usual. This is nothing to be ashamed of, as it will happen to every writer.
What you can do to help yourself out is to run an extra round of checkups. Read through your writing brief again and make sure you’ve followed all the guidelines (I tend to forget to add meta descriptions when I’m having a bad day, for example). Run an extra spell check, ideally using two different tools.
You should also use a plagiarism checker just to make sure you haven’t inadvertently quoted one of the sources you’ve used to write your content.
Take Care of Yourself
Finally, don’t expect yourself to focus and be able to produce your best content when you are underslept, overtired, underfed, and underwatered. How you treat yourself will directly impact how creative you can be on a daily basis. So, instead of pulling an all-nighter, give yourself plenty of time to rest.
Use the good days to write more than you need to, so that you have plenty of time to recuperate on the challenging ones. Find the time to enjoy yourself, and tune into the signals your body and mind are sending you. Spend time in nature – you can write in the park every once in a while. Fuel yourself with quality nutrients and your words with some of the best books ever written.
Writing is equal parts art and perseverance. When the tough times roll around, remind yourself that every writer on the planet has experienced the same feelings, and comfort yourself in knowing that they won’t last forever. Even Agatha Christie believed she would never be able to write a new novel, yet she managed to keep thrilling her audience well into her eighties.