by Mary Hay Davis
Dictionary.com defines Crisis as:
1. a stage in a sequence of events at which the trend of all future events, esp. for better or for worse, is determined; a turning point.
Almost all freelancers have experienced some type of work crisis during their writing career – the printer goes out as you’re preparing a manuscript for a 5 p.m. mailing deadline or your internet service goes down the day a big project is due.
In this line of work, it’s not a matter of if we’ll face a crisis, but when. More tellingly, success in this business depends on your adaptability, resourcefulness and problem-solving aptitude – how do you navigate the inevitable gauntlet of problems that are sure to crop up? (Funny how these pesky creatures know when deadlines are looming!)
Some of my recent work crises include:
Internet service went down when cable provider decided to tweak the hub in our development (which sadly was located next door to me). Of course, I was on deadline. As the sad sap who usually draws the short straw, this time proved no different – only three houses out of 40 were affected, mine being one of them.
Teenage son errantly downloads the evil IE Antivirus onto our family computer, which is also my main work computer. Annoying and very official-looking warning “window” pops up incessantly with the message, “Your Computer Is Infected with a Dangerous Virus!” This requires me to repeatedly X the window out to change screens (thus almost tripling my writing and research time.)
Invoicing program gets gremlins and one day decides not to allow invoices to be e-mailed to clients who require them semi-monthly. If I don’t do it today, I will have to wait another two weeks for payment.
These are just a few of the more recent problems I’ve encountered and had to resolve before I could continue my work. Here’s how I solved them:
INTERNET OUTAGE: After resisting the urge to explode at the cable technician next door, I calmly interrogate, er, question him, as to the extent and expected duration of the outage.
After being informed it could be all day, I go inside and phone the cable company. Resisting the urge to now yell at the operator (the one person in a position to help me), I again calmly explain my situation and that I work from home and rely on this service for my livelihood. She pages technician to have him expedite the service and restore signal strength to my house.
IE ANTIVIRUS: After lecturing my son about the dangers of downloading ‘Free’ programs (and threatening to rescind computer privileges for the next four years), I check out PC World’s recommendations and end up buying Webroot SpySweeper AntiVirus and AntiSpyware program. This eventually resolves the problem.
[NOTE: We already had Norton AntiVirus installed (updated just two days before), and yet it failed not only to detect the intrusion of the virus onto on our computer, but also did not recognize/eradicate it when we ran the scan. Furthermore, attempts to contact customer service were of no help. We will not be renewing our Norton AntiVirus protection when it lapses.]
INVOICING E-MAIL FAILURE: After following all the troubleshooting options given in the software’s help menu, I eventually uninstalled the program, reinstalled it and started my computer. This did the trick.
IGNITE YOUR SUPERPOWERS: RESILIENCY & INNOVATION
I am NOT a techie person. Before my freelance writing career, I ‘delegated’ all technical problems to my husband. But once I became a professional marketer/writer, I no longer had the luxury of waiting until he got home to fix problems that arose. If I was going to succeed, I had to become self-reliant, get out of my comfort zone, and learn about these things (often by trial and error) and GET THE PROBLEM SOLVED!
Crises don’t have to be just technology-based, however. Freelance writing crises can run the gamut from dealing with unexpected family problems that crop up, handling a non-paying (or slow-to-pay) client or getting sick yourself. Regardless of the situation, we have to keep our business running.
So now I ask you – what types of crises have you encountered during your FW career? What were the potential negative impacts, and how did you resolve the problem(s)?
Come on, FWJ community! This is your opportunity to share your experiences and help us all learn from one another. Your trials and tribulations (and hopefully your triumphs over them) can help other writers avoid potential pitfalls and help us all grow.
What’s your story?
Mary Hay Davis is a professional writer whose work has appeared in The Christian Science Monitor, The Costco Connection, Family Times/Parenting Today and San Diego Family, Magazine. She specializes in writing SEO web content, advetorials, informational articles and marketing material. Before becoming a writer, Mary worked over two decades as a police dispatcher, an occupation rich in anecdotes about the foibles and frailties of the human condition. You can contact Mary through her two websites: www.webprowriting.com and www.maryhaydavis.com.