Freelance writing. Blog writing. Novel writing. Oh my.
For those of you wearing more than one writing hat, how in the hell do you manage?
I’ve been thinking – obsessing, really – a lot this summer about this question, alternating between dogged optimism that I will find space in my brain and in my schedule for all of my writing to thrive, and despair that I will never achieve a rhythm that allows me to devote sufficient attention to more than one area at a time.
My three-headed hydra of a problem, which I’ve chronicled before:
- I’m scared of diving in as deep as I need to in order to succeed.
- I am not nearly as strict with my available time as I need to be.
- I don’t know how to define success.
Is success obtaining more freelance work in the corporate space, which would pay more bills? Or finding outlets for more personal essays, which won’t pay for much but would potentially provide platforms – other than my blog – to write about the subjects that most interest me? Or is success about getting back to weekly blogging? Or making progress on my novel? Is success all of those things and if so, how do I prioritize? And if it’s all of those things, am I spreading myself too thin? Or do I aim for incremental progress over the course of a few months in one or two areas?
Oy. I’ve exhausted myself just typing that paragraph.
The good news is that with about four months left to go in 2015, I have already earned about the same amount of money freelancing this year than I did during all of last year. Mind you, the total is still extremely modest. I’m not yet earning a living from the work, but at least my income is heading in the right direction. To maintain momentum, I know exactly what I need to do. I must be proactive about seeking new remunerated projects. I also need to determine how much additional money I need to earn to lessen my anxiety about our family’s finances. Yet I’m in a privileged position because money isn’t my only consideration.
The trouble is deciding how proactive I should be in pursuing new clients, given the difficulties I’ve had focusing on my personal writing. As the paid work has picked up, I have not maintained my weekly blogging schedule. Over the past several months, I have posted new content approximately every two weeks, causing me more than a little consternation. I love my blog and blogging should be an enjoyable practice for me, not a source of stress.
And let’s not even talk about my YA “novel.” In quotes because said work of fiction is more like a long series of stream of consciousness ramblings than a coherent, engaging narrative. I haven’t looked at it in more than a year.
So what’s a flummoxed, finding-her-way writer to do?
I do know that I can’t ignore my family. Well, I can (and some days I’d really, really love to), but that would result in all sorts of bad karma I’m not willing to seriously contemplate. When school starts in a few weeks, I will have approximately 5.5 hours per day, five days a week to get shit done. I know I should devote most of those hours to my writing. The challenge is in the organization. If I were a night owl or a rooster, I’d commit to a few additional hours per day, but I’m not, so I won’t. If I can occasionally manage to squeeze in a few extra hours, I’ll consider it bonus time.
I’ve resolved that between now and the girls’ first day back to school on September 8, I will create a realistic schedule that allows and encourages me to spend time working on all three branches of my writing tree – freelancing, blogging and novel writing – on a weekly basis. Things to keep in mind:
- I’ve learned the hard way that blocking out vague “writing” time in my calendar is not enough.
- I will need to refrain from getting sucked into the social media vortex during my dedicated writing hours.
- I will need to allot time – separate and apart from my writing time – to promote my blog on social media and pursue new freelance work.
Fellow writers, what tips and tools do you recommend for juggling the different aspects of your writing lives and how have you managed your time to fit everything in?