A New Year and New Ways
Paul Callaghan. All rights reserved
turkey is a distant memory. The kids have broken their new toys. The relatives have finished eating everything
in your pantry and finally gone home. It’s time to get back to your writing and work out where you are going
The internet has been awash with predictions and
plans, resolutions and reports. Most of the predictions will, of course, be wrong. And most of the resolutions
are already broken. But don’t let that put you off making some plans for yourself. This time of year is perfect
for focussing on what you want to do.
The main thing that I want this year is to improve
my work output. And making more money with writing would be nice too.
So what to do? I have a couple of ideas that might
well increase the amount of work I put out. And I hope the amount of money coming
Writers are possibly the only profession that suffer
from block. Those dreaded days when the white page stares back at you and your mind is a fluffy lamb gambolling
in fields of indecision and procrastination. I don’t think that I can come up with an absolute cure for writer’s
block. But there are some things that I could do to try to get around it.
Firstly, I can always have more than one project on
the go at a time. I might not be able to write anymore on my latest book, but how about writing a short story, a
blog post or an article? Most how to write books are full of various exercises that can help get the creative
juices going. The time spent away from the main project might well allow the old subconscious to get to
Secondly conversation works well for me. I’m a
pretty chatty kind of bloke and I‘m rarely stuck for something to say. So when the words aren’t flowing onto the
page then I’ll just go and have a bit of a chinwag. Of course, being a writer, I keep irregular hours so there
are those times when it’s 4am and my family and friends would not be too happy to chat. That’s when social media
and forums become very useful. I make a point of connecting with people in different time zones. The internet
never sleeps and there is always someone to discuss something with.
The key to both of these strategies is to ensure
that there is always something else to do. Don’t become so focussed on one thing that you can’t see past it.
Make yourself known on the forums and social media when you aren’t blocked. Most of the writers I speak to
online are very friendly and prepared to help others or just have a little bit of a chat or a laugh.
More (and more effective)
I recently attended a webinar hosted by two very
successful freelance writers. A couple of things came up that really stayed with me. The first was one of the
writers saying that she spent about 85% of her working time marketing her services. I have to admit that I was
surprised that she spent so much time promoting and only 15% actually writing or researching.
I’m pretty keen on marketing myself too, but to be
honest I don’t spend more than 40% of my time on it. I obviously have room for improvement. I don’t think that I
will ever get to the same levels as that freelancer, mainly because I am too passionate about actually putting
the words down. But I need to change the proportions of my workday.
After all, I know only too well that I might be able to produce the world’s greatest writing (yeah, right!) but
it’s just literary masturbation unless other people learn about it.
The second thing that came up was the importance of
perseverance. When sending a query letter or cold calling a client you have to realise that you will never have
a 100% success rate. I know I’ve been guilty of trying something once or twice and then giving up on it because
“it doesn’t work for me.” A better way to do things would be to try something 50 times and see if it works once.
And if it does, keep on with it. I’m a writer. Being ignored and rejected is part of what I signed up for when I
chose to write for a living. Marketing isn’t really that different.
About the Author: Paul Callaghan is a freelance writer
based in New Zealand. He writes articles, newsletters and blogs as well as editing web
content for SEO and managing social media. You can read more from Paul at www.freelancewriter.co.nz