- A Writer’s Tale
©Paul Callaghan– All
OK, I admit it. I was suckered by all
those promises of being able to ‘work when I wanted’ when I started as a freelance writer. I really thought that
if I could just write when the muse struck me I would make enough money to live well.
reality of making a living from writing is very different. I probably put in more hours with my writing business
than I ever did as an English teacher. If I’m not strict enough with how I spend those hours then I don’t get
paid. And I like eating. I’m funny like that.
When I was
only publishing once or twice a month it was never a problem. These days I have a great deal more work than that
(not that I’m complaining!) and so it has become important to make sure that I spend my time
A Working Writer’s
early riser. I love to get up before the bedlam that is my family life explodes into action. First job is to scan
my emails. I don’t actually read that many of them at this time though, because most of them will be looked at
later during my research time. I subscribe to numerous newsletters about freelance writing, SEO, social media and
about the subjects that I write for other people on.
average of 100 emails a day coming into my inboxes I really can’t allow myself to get bogged down at the
beginning of the day.
I read first are from clients. If there any problems or questions I sort those out immediately. Requests for
quotes and notifications of publishing are labelled in my inbox accordingly and left for later in the
have at least one article that I wrote the day before. I spend some time looking at that, tightening it up and
checking for typos. Nothing worse than sending out copy that has obvious errors in it.
the family are stirring, so I try to get an article or blog post done as a first draft. I normally have some
notes from yesterday’s research and a good night’s sleep has allowed my mind to work things into some kind of
order. By the time I have written 500-800 words it’s time to take the kids to school.
and I start researching for the next articles. A lot of this is going through the email newsletters to see what
other people are saying. Things that spark my interest can be Googled further.
ever writing tutor told me that “media will eat itself”. He meant to read newspapers and magazines for story
ideas. I do it online mostly these days, but the principle remains the same. I make notes and add to my ideas
box. Anything I like I can also share with social media connections.
media is next. I answer all messages and thank new followers and people who have mentioned me. I try to follow a
few new people every day on at least two platforms. Any publishing from the day before gets promoted too. I also
like to read and comment on a few blogs - although I have to admit that I don’t get this done as often as I want
like to look at least one website which might be a market for my writing. I analyse the site and have a look at
the competition. Then I sum up how I could improve them and write a sales letter. Some don’t answer, some say no
thanks and a few want more details. Cold calling like this isn’t easy but I have gathered some good clients over
time by just putting my name out there.
it’s lunch time and I have probably put in about 7-8 hours. If it’s Wednesday I’ll do some accounts work –
billing, logging expenses etc. The rest of the week I’ll sort out pricing for clients or I might write another
article or two to be edited in the morning. Any other writing and/or social media strategising can be done about
this time too.
When I get
to the novel (I’m not as disciplined or regular with this bit, I’m afraid) I usually walk away from the computer
and write in longhand. It just seems to work better for me when I do my first drafts by hand and then rewrite on
are for reading. Fiction, non-fiction even some poetry depending on my mood.
like lists very much so I try to maintain a routine instead. Of course there are always rush jobs, or kids that
come in and ruin my routine. But I have to be organised about writing and marketing myself or else I fall into
the great pit of procrastination.
The bottom line is this: everything I
do is to a routine. I know what I’ll be doing at any given time of the day, and this makes it
workable. It makes it predictable as well, and to a large degree I can count on getting through an
expected amount of work per day. This really helps when I am pricing a job for new clients.
Different things work for different people, some prefer to have routines or lists that are
specific to each day, sort of “if it’s Thursday it must be social media”. Find what works for you and stick to
it. The more organised you are, the more work you are able to churn out and the more money you will
be able to earn.
Callaghan is New Zealand based freelance writer, social media strategist, editor and proof reader. You can
contact him through his website at www.freelancewriter.co.nz