Posts Tagged ‘freelance life’


My Favorite Freelance Resources

Without an in house editor, newsroom historian or a librarian at our fingertips to help us navigate the freelance life, it is necessary to cull our own resources. While everyone’s list will vary, I thought I’d share a few of my favorite freelance resources.

Books:

Associated Press Guide to Punctuation

Bird by Bird:  Some Instructions on Writing and Life (Anne Lamott)

The Courage to Write (Ralph Keyes)

Get a Freelance Life (Media Bistro, Margit Feury Ragland)

My So-Called Freelance Life (Michelle Goodman)

The Subversive Copyeditor (Carol Fisher Saller)


Online Resources:

Christina Katz ~ The Prosperous Writer

Dr. Grammar

Media Bistro

Reynolds Center for Business Journalism

JimRomenesko.com


Organizations:

Editorial Freelancers Association

Freelancers Union

Journalism & Women Symposium (JAWS)

SPJ, Freelance Resources

 

What are some of your favorite freelance resources? Please post them in the comments to share them with us. Thank you!

 

Dana E. Neuts is a full-time freelance writer and editor and is the publisher of iLoveKent.net and iLoveWashington.net. An avid SPJ volunteer, she is the regional director for SPJ’s region 10, serves on the membership committee, and is the chair for the freelance committee. She is also a candidate for the office of national SPJ Secretary/Treasurer. Followe her on Twitter (@SPJDana, @SPJFreelance, @VirtuallyYourz).

 

Kick Yourself in the Pants: Staying on Target as a Remote Freelance Journalist

The radiator is hissing, the cats continue to circle the room and periodically scratch the back of our new sofa, the mailman stomps up the steps and the HDTV dares me to bathe in its plasma glow.

While these stimuli offer any artist vibrant hooks on which to hang their work, these noises, actions and perceived invitations can also serve to derail your responsibilities. As a 21-year veteran of the freelancing world, I know this feeling all too well.

Without a truly developed sense of discipline and lacking a formal corporate environment within which to operate, it’s difficult to maintain focus and drive sometimes. The distractions around the home office don’t help, and our situation isn’t one that most professionals can empathize with when we share at cocktail parties.

So, when faced with trying to get work done in a remote location, and dealing with myriad distractions, how do you stay on task and complete your assigned work on time?

Three things work for me. Deadlines. Deal-making. Dilly-dallying.

The first, and best, solution is having an immovable deadline. That concept itself is redundant. A deadline should be a deadline should be a deadline. But who among us hasn’t nudged a deadline a bit due to circumstances beyond our control?

Unfortunately, the knowledge that a deadline isn’t absolute is dangerous. Soon, just like the teenager who sets her alarm clock ahead by 15 minutes to get an extra 15 minutes of sleep, you’re just fooling yourself and creating more stress.

So, obey the deadline and treat your assignments as if the product you have when the bell goes off is the final product. While you won’t immediately whip yourself into shape, you’ll find that you use your allotted time more efficiently.

I’m now at the stage – having had deadlines taunt me for two decades – where my internal clock and some recesses of my brain collaborate to spark me into motion when there’s just enough time left for me to write an article or craft a post.

The second solution is to bargain with yourself. Make yourself a deal that you can’t ignore so that you can manage your tasks. Either promise yourself a reward or deny yourself something expected until you reach a milestone with an assignment.

This sounds like game-playing behavior, but sometimes all you need is an initial push to get you working toward your finished goal. My favorite punishment and reward is food. Second is the aforementioned plasma HDTV. What makes the TV even more effective these days is the advent of the DVR, so I can’t convince myself that I’ll just watch my show and come back to the keyboard. That show will wait until I type the ### at the end of my piece.

The third way to keep yourself on track when you’re working remotely is to take yourself completely off the track. Seriously. If you can’t get your writing done because of a mental block, the situation at your remote office or other distractions, then get away.

Go for a go-kart ride, play the banjo, walk along the beach, hop in the hot-tub. Whatever you can do to kindle your creative fire, go do it. Don’t use this method as your first option as it might become a habit. Then you’ll find yourself likely living in a house with hundreds of cats in Key West drinking rum and…..oh, wait, that seemed to work pretty well for some semi-famous freelancer, I guess.

The freelance life – and especially the one that keeps you remote most of the time – is a challenge. But if you can find a few solutions for remaining motivated and creative, you’ll learn to treasure the pace, freedom and other benefits that go along with the solo journey.

**********************

Jeff Cutler
Content Creator and Social Media Strategist
www.JeffCutler.com
jeff@jeffcutler.com

READ CUTLER (732-328-8537)

Freelancing with a Family

Contributed by Kathy Ehrich Dowd, freelance writer

Want to be there for your child’s every milestone, but aren’t ready to surrender your creative-yet-professional side after your kiddo is born? There is no perfect solution, but freelancing seems to come pretty close.

I have been a full-time freelance journalist since 2004 and have always loved many things about the gig — the flexibility, the variety of assignments, and the lack of commute to name a few — but I have never loved my setup more than these past 18 months during pregnancy and the birth of my son.

While other preggos lamented exhausted days filled with battling nausea during client meetings, swollen ankles crammed into “professional” shoes or the simple act of getting out of bed for work after a sleepless night, I slept in as needed, happily attended my Tuesday morning prenatal yoga class and worked comfortably, often in stretch pants and slippers.

I have become even more grateful for my freelance life after my son was born. While some full-time working away from home moms I know battle guilt because they feel they aren’t spending enough quality time with their kids and some stay-at-home-mom buddies struggle with the loss of their intellectual, “adult” side, I realize I am incredibly fortunate to have the best of both worlds.

My son is now 9 months old and I feel lucky to have figured out a work/life balance that works well for me and my son — for now, anyway. I take him to daycare three times a week after his first nap (usually about 10:30 or 11, much later than most other kids whose parents need to rush out the door early in the morning). My parents are usually available to come on his non-daycare days as needed, and my husband can handle weekends if I need to work. When my son is home with me I will often work during his naps and can occasionally sneak in an email or two when he’s awake — I just have to keep a watchful eye to make sure he’s not biting the vacuum cord or getting into some other kind of crawling baby trouble!

What this all means is that I can spend hours in the playroom with my son singing songs, helping him learn to walk and simply marveling at this tiny person who discovers something new practically everyday. Babies are babies for such a short time, and I revel in the time we spend together. And, I must admit, I revel in our time apart, where I can pursue the journalism career I love, without the guilt.

Freelancing can be tough. It can be isolating, the work/cash flow can be uncertain and the administrative aspects of the job can be a hassle, but if you’re a journalist and also a mom (or dad!) to little ones, freelancing offers something so many careers do not: lots of flexible, unhurried time with the people you love most. To me, that is worth more than anything.

Kathy Ehrich Dowd is a frequent contributor to PEOPLE Magazine and has also written for TV Guide, USA Today, Women’s World, the New York Daily News, Tonic.com and many other publications. Learn more at www.kathyehrichdowd.com.

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