My New Oxford American Dictionary defines “handicap” as follows: “a circumstance that makes progress or success difficult.” When it comes to finding work or completing our assignments, freelance or otherwise, we all have them. It could be a fear of rejection that keeps us from applying for a freelance writing gig or making a pitch to someone we really want to work with. The barriers may be due to a health condition, family responsibilities, or a lack of support from our nearest and dearest.
In no way am I suggesting that we should all dump our respective baggage and find a desert island somewhere so that we can write in peace and amass huge fortunes. (Besides, if you’re on a desert island, why would you need money?) I’m just saying that we all have areas of strength and things that make it more challenging, but that doesn’t mean that anyone should give up on their dream of finding freelance writing work if that’s what they want to do.
I’ll use myself as an example. I’m not the fastest typist on the planet. Back when dinosaurs ruled the earth and I was in high school, we took a battery of career aptitude tests. When I got my results, I was very surprised to find that I scored high in the area of Communications (I was struggling to keep a B average in English). The portion that I scored the lowest on was….Clerical Ability.
Fast forward a number of years and I decided to go back to school. My career choice at the time was governed by what course can I take where I would be virtually guaranteed a job on graduation. There was a big demand for Legal Assistants at the time and I was interested in law, so I signed up. I did well, except when it was time to learn how to type. No matter who often I practiced, when I heard the word “Begin” to do a typing test, I was all thumbs. I came in just under the minimum speed requirement to advance to the second year and one of my teachers adjusted my mark down by a grade but decided to let me pass so that I could complete my program.
I did get a job after graduation, and I know that if the hiring decision was made solely on typing speed, that I wouldn’t have been able to find work. I also live with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, which means that some days I’m quite uncomfortable when I’m working.
When it comes to freelance, my clients don’t care how fast I’m typing. They care about getting clean work submitted, on time. When I’m quoting for jobs, I prefer to do so by the word instead of by the hour. That way, the client pays for results, not the fact that it takes me a little longer to produce copy than someone who is more gifted in this area.
We all have things that make it difficult to reach our goals, in freelance writing and otherwise. They don’t have to make it impossible.
What kinds of things do you find especially challenging about freelance writing work? How have you overcome your own handicaps?