Happy Labor Day to the rest of you in the US! If you’re a writer, particularly a freelance one, holidays are hard to take off, though. If you shimmy your schedule around just right, you may be able to take a day off here and there, but usually they’re out of the question. Especially if you’re being good and writing creatively every day like you ought! In which case, even when you don’t have the business writing to do, you’re still keeping up the discipline by working on a WIP.
An advantage of being a freelance writer, though, is that you can make your own schedule for the most part, and there are a number of days where you work fewer than eight hours. (And some days when you work more, ack. I try to avoid those. I never once pulled an all-nighter in college, but I have for some clients!) Of course, there’s always so much else to fit into any given day: cleaning, cooking and running errands… I don’t think I’ve experienced boredom outside of things like waiting in lines in years.
This week I have a huge freelancing project from one of my favorite clients, one that may extend for a number of months. I’m also roughly 10,000 words from finishing the first draft of the YA WIP that I started earlier this year and that I’ve been determined to work on almost every day for over a month now. (And boy, is it taking a lot more out of me than the first completed book!) I have big, exciting edits for another project. I have two other WIPs not touched in a while… Oh, and I have to live outside of staring at my computer at some point, too.
So how have I managed it so far? And why am I here at the blog? Because I’ve finished my work quota for the day. (Admittedly, I haven’t picked up the WIP quite yet, but I will.) So far (after fighting off panic about how much I need and want to do over the next few weeks) I’ve decided to:
- Get the work writing done right away in the morning. I need to work on the non-fiction stuff when my mind’s still focused and I have the drive. Whenever I feel my drive slipping, I keep telling myself I’ll be done after lunch, and then I’ll have the afternoon to devote to other projects.
- Turn distractions into a reward. I can easily spend an hour just goofing off at my favorite websites first thing when I get online if I choose (it’s nice and brain-numbing). Not so this week. I check my email, shut off the Internet, write two articles, check one fun website, rinse and repeat…
- Stick to the WIP. I’ve spent too many weeks working on this one nearly every single day to give up now when the end is so close. (And I’m at risk of never wanting to pick it up again after all it’s put me through!) I just need to be more lax when it comes to word count. My best days were 2000-3000 words, but now I need to be okay with 500 on any given day, and then I can focus on other projects.
- Take breaks! When I waste time goofing off online, I feel guilty spending too much time away from the computer doing anything more substantive than a quick run to the washing machine to start a load of laundry. When I’m disciplined, I feel I deserve a 15-minute break to read or step out for fresh air. It recharges me, and I don’t feel guilty.
So far, so good, I don’t feel like a burn out is imminent. What do you do when you’re incredibly busy, but there’s so much you need and want to do? How do you fit it all in?