Truth be told, there may be some merit to the old saying, "Business first, then pleasure", but during the past weeks I have found the opposite to be true.
But let's circle back. Last September I became a full-time freelance writer and mainly work in web content creation, which means my work is neither particularly creative, nor do I get a byline. Usually, you can find my hours of labour on a hotel website, probably the FAQ section or where to rent cars, and most of the people will not even read the content I provide.
I don't mean to complain, I am one of the few I know who can live from writing full-time, I am my own boss and I can arrange my time completely flexibly. When I took up this kind of writing, I told myself it would be to pay the bills - the perfect job that would allow me to focus on my own writing - as ultimately the goal would be to live from MY writing, not the one I do for others.
Let me explain you the problems of this plan I came up with. In theory very good, it has not supported me practically, as I get up every day and write at least 3-4 hours for my clients. Probably the editor has sent back a few things that need redoing. I sit perched at my desk, my shoulders getting increasingly tense as my fingers flit over the keyboard, creating one article after the other.
And this is where the problem kicks in. As you may imagine, the very last thing I want to do after hours of writing for clients is to keep sitting at my laptop and do my own writing, which is why, ironically, I have hardly written as little ever since I've become a full-time writer.
My main problem is self-commitment and discipline. I always deliver on the dot when it comes to my clients, I scold myself the harshest when content for my clients is not topnotch and I can discipline myself to get up every day and start with my articles. However, sadly, I am not as skilled with setting and keeping my own deadlines. I cannot tell you how often I've said, "at the end of this year you'll have self-published two books, sent out hundreds to other publishers and won a Nobel prize" (well, maybe my aims are also a bit too high).
So here I am, twenty-fucking-seven and no big break for my own writing in sight. And the only person I can blame is myself. So, what does this self-pitying blabber have to do with my headline? Well, I thought about how I could make the article deadlines serve my own writing as well and reversed the whole pleasure-business-paradigm. Ever since two weeks, I only allowed myself to get to work - work that has deadlines attached - when I have written at least 1500 words of my own writing, may that be a blog post, story or even translation of one story.
To be quite frank, I haven't managed to do it on all times (the client's do still pay me to keep deadlines, I don't pay myself), but it has already worked wonders, and I have written on my new book (or should I say one of the many) for the past weeks and accomplished huge chunks thanks to this new routine.
Why is this helpful? Well, first of all, it increase the chance that, one wonderful day, I could actually live from my own writing, as if you don't ever write, how should this ever happen? Secondly, I have been chastising myself whenever I got off work, always demanding to do more and more and more. However, feeling tired, I ended up numbing the inner voice to get on with something with Netflix and ended up feeling like a failure. Now, when I've typed up my last article, I can truly sign off, knowing I've already done my own writing for the day.
Another reason why it was wise to do my writing first and the client's second is that I am my most creative and resourceful in the morning. After having been drained from writing hotel profile 170 of this month, I surely feel tapped out and it is harder to delve into my stories. Additionally, the non-creative chains that often frustrate me when writing such content are less tight after I was allowed to explore my own worlds and knock myself out creatively.
Depending on my future month's workload, I definitely want to keep up this scheme and can only invite other freelance writers to do so as well, if you also dream of becoming an independent writer one day, or at least making money out of both. So screw business, and let's do some pleasure!
Writer. Editor. Blogger. YouTuber. Freelancer. Traveller. English fanatic.