If you freelance, you know well the dizzying panic of a slackening workload.
Writing for a living means getting comfortable with the ups and downs. Some days your calendar will be crammed, at other times it’ll seem a little sparse.
If your steady stream of work has dried up, and you’re wondering whether this is a sign of things to come for 2018, here’s lesson one:
And here’s lesson two:
Use that time wisely.
Done right, a gap in your schedule can be a welcome gift. A chance to iron out some problems, brush up your skills or simply take a breather.
Here’s what I do when things get a little slow.
A good writer is a healthy writer, and a healthy writer is one that takes full advantage of a time-out.
Deadlines are stressful and both mentally and physically taxing. When you’ve nothing looming on the horizon, enjoy it.
- Get more sleep
- Reconnect with family and friends
- Take a holiday
- Try a new hobby
Think of all the above as important ways to fortify and recharge yourself for the next busy season.
Downtime is great for taking a long, hard look at your career.
Think about your last couple of jobs. Did they take you closer to your goals, or further away?
And, while you’re at it, here are some more questions:
- What kind of writer do you want to be?
- Are you proud of the work you’re producing?
- What do you want your next job to look like?
Once you’ve decided where you want to go next, you have to figure out how to get there.
That can take a number of forms:
- Learning a new skill through an online course
- Sending submissions to your favourite magazines
- Joining a writing group to get better feedback
- Making connections with writers you admire
- Exploring a new area of your industry
- Updating your resume
- Exploiting social media
The more you do now, the more employable you’ll become.
No-one does their best work when surrounded by chaos so if you’ve let your tidy habits slip while you were powering through your last job, now might be a good time to get back on track.
With the luxury of time, you can start thinking about your workspace and how you can optimise it for better productivity.
What NOT to do
Working writers aren’t landing jobs back to back. A lull is totally normal and not a reflection of your skills (or lack of!).
So don’t be discouraged, or doubt yourself.
And, above all, don’t stop writing.
Whether you’re getting paid or not, you’re still a writer. So write.
Journal, write poetry, scribble a short story, compose a letter to friend.
Just keep that pen moving.
For more info on how to cope with a period of unemployment (not specifically for writers but full of helpful advice) check out cleverism.com.