Work-life balance is never easy, but for parents who work at home, the juggling act can be near impossible. After all, with the never-ending housework and kids vying for your attention, squeezeing in a few hours of undivided time for your work is quite a feat.
Writing is a unique career choice. There can be many peaks and valleys in terms of levels of creativity, work flow, and the number of projects that you are working on. This is why it is important to take advantage of productive times. This helps to mitigate the impact of the lulls in your productivity and the times when it is seemingly impossible to put a sentence together. There is nothing more frustrating than staring at the computer screen and trying piece a sentence together when you just can’t seem to find the right words.
Consistency, Focus, and Creative Flow
A common thing that most writers are always looking to achieve is consistency: consistency in their level of production, creativity, and the ability to maintain a high standard in terms of the quality of writing they provide for their clients. But, when you get busy with client projects, have to worry about when to pick up the kids from soccer practice, and everything else that is part of your daily life, it is easy for your mind to be preoccupied with other things. This makes it extremely difficult to focus on the task at hand – writing. While some writers find that they are at their best in the morning, and others have a particular coffee shop that tends to get their creative juices flowing, I have personally found that meditation has helped me clear my mind and think more creatively when working on writing projects.
Writing and Creativity are Interconnected
Writing and creativity go hand in hand. When your mind is full of busy thoughts it can be hard to create high quality content, let alone string together more than a few cohesive sentences. When your mind is cluttered with other thoughts, it is hard to focus and keep your creativity dialed in. This is why it is important for you to calm your mind and eliminate the background noise and thoughts that interrupt your creative flow. All writers want to avoid writers block at all costs. But, on occasion it happens to the best of us. I use meditation as a tool to do this. Okay, I know what you are thinking – “I don’t know how to meditate”. The truth is that meditation is actually really easy. All you have to do is:
- Find a quiet spot
- Close your eyes
- Focus on your breathing
Take a series of deep breaths and slowing as you let your breath out. This will provide you with a calming effect. It is okay if your mind takes your thoughts someone else. Just refocus and continue to concentrate on your breathing. Do this for 5 minutes per day to start. You may find that 5 minutes is all that you need. How long you meditate depends on how quickly you will be able to calm your mind. There is no wrong way to do this, so don’t worry about if you are doing it correctly or not. Just focus on your breathing and calming down your mind. I personally find that if I am having trouble concentrating at any point during the day, I do a 5-minute meditation session. This usually calms my mind and helps me focus on the task at hand.
How Does Meditation Improve my Writing?
Being able to calm your mind and eliminate the thoughts that are constantly running through your mind will help you be a more focused writer. I have seen a significant increase in both my focus and level of production since I started using meditation. Meditation will help you:
- Have greater focus
- Be more efficient
- Be more creative
- Be more present
- Think critically and solve problems more easily
- More clearly put your thoughts into writing
- Experience fewer cases of writers block
- Communicate your thoughts more clearly
- Uncover new insights
- Make more detailed connections between concepts
Meditation will make you a better writer. Give it try! You won’t be disappointed. Nolan Wilson is a freelance writer who specializes in content marketing, blogging, and SEO. He helps companies develop high quality content marketing campaigns for their internet properties. He Has a Master’s Degree in Library & Information Science. Connect with him on Google + and LinkedIn.
There seems to be two kinds of freelancers when it comes to the beginning to a career: those who are afraid to take on more than a single project at a time and those who jump in so deep that they are drowning in orders before they know what they are doing. Most commonly, it is the first type that we see. While freelancers have the ability to do more than one order at once, they are terrified of the risk or missing a deadline to take the chance.
But here is a secret that most freelancers who have been in the business for a while are aware of: You won’t reach full earning potential until you move past this fear, simply because you waste time that could be broken up among multiple orders trying to find one new project at a time.
If you are thinking of finally getting more than one client at a time, here are five tips to help you do so more smoothly. [Read more…]
Managing your time effectively is very individual and so it’s impossible to tell a person which days and times they will be able to work most effectively.
However, there are patterns that you can look at and see if you’re the same as most other people when it comes to working. If you’re trying to work out a timetable in order to help yourself work as efficiently as possible, there are several things you should take into consideration and think about first of all. [Read more…]
One of the most time consuming parts of a freelance writing job is the emailing. I do freelance writing on the weekends, and I find that the constant emailing back and forth sometimes takes me almost as long as writing the actual article. The emailing back and forth isn’t even the most strenuous part—it is the emails that get ignored that really kill me. When an email gets ignored I have to email the editor again for a follow-up, then check to see if the message ever sent, then again for another follow up, and then I take a month break or so and try that editor again before giving up for good. In other words, I have found that while most professionals want to see an empty inbox, freelance writers want to see it full of answers.
We all have trouble focusing from time to time. With the massive time waster that is the Internet tempting us with endless pages of Lolcats, YouTube videos, social-networking sites and Netflix, it is practically turning us all into creatures with the attention span of a goldfish. When was the last time you actually got through a task without checking Facebook? Or sending a text? I bet you can’t even remember.
It is no surprise that an avalanche of free applications has been released by developers for the Mac that helps to combat the lack of productivity that sometimes occurs in our everyday lives. Whether the issue is that there isn’t enough time in a day to get it all done or you just don’t seem to know where the time is going, these apps can help. [Read more…]
Now, it’s on to the next gig! That’s bad.
Well, it’s not really bad to move on to another gig. It’s just bad to look at assignments as one-off opportunities.
Most of the freelancers I know don’t make that mistake. They follow up with previous clients. They make calls or send emails, trying to scare up a little more work. They do a decent job of reminding the client to get in touch the next time he or she needs something.
That approach will create return customers and it’s something every freelancer should be doing. In fact, writers should have an organized system to maintain regular contact with past customers. [Read more…]
- It forces you to realistically assess the amount of work you’ll need to do.
- It breaks down income generation into manageable, easy-to-understand chunks.
- It prevents you from inadvertently resting on your laurels during good times and it doesn’t let you off the hook when things are tough.
- It encourages you to earn more than what you need to squeak through life (both by establishing a daily target in excess of expenses and by refusing to allow you to get soft just because you had a few days with overages).
- It gives you a legitimate shot at your “dream” number because you don’t use daily surpluses to relieve the daily “pressure” to hit your mark.
- It helps you to train yourself to be a consistent earner and eliminates the dreaded feast and famine cycle.
So, FWJ amigos… Opinions? Insults? Accolades? How do you do it? Discuss.
Earlier, I posted a review of the Dylan biopic I’m Not There at Filmsy.com. Now, I’m using a little tidbit that caught my eye while prepping that post to get this one rolling. Others may caution against quoting Bob, but I’m hoping to pull it off.
Here we go:
“It is the first line that gives the inspiration and then it’s like riding a bull. Either you just stick with it, or you don’t.”
That’s a Dylan remark about the writing process.
I’m not a Bob Dylan nut. There’s a lot to like about the guy and his music. There’s plenty to dislike, too. I agree with his sentiments on some things and find other statements he’s made nothing short of silly. This one isn’t right or wrong, good or bad. Assuming he was quoted correctly and was being honest at the time, his perspective on writing and inspiration is true. For him.
I’m wondering if it’s true for others. For you.
There are times when a great opening grabs me and pulls me along at sprint, opening doors for me until the last period hits the page. In those situations, I’m a true believer in the power of a first line’s inspiration. It makes bull riding easier when that happens, too.
In other cases, I develop an almost visual understanding of the completed piece and it begins to write itself. It’s sort of like A Beautiful Mind, only it’s not high-level mathematics and rarely, if ever, represents what would pass for pure genius (unfortunately).
Sometimes, I know how the work ends and it’s all a matter of figuring how to get to that point. I almost work backwards to the beginning.
And I can’t overlook the times when every word is failure and the only way to put the train on the tracks is to keep plugging along until I have a draft to revisit.
I stay on the bull even when the first version of the first line is a clunker.
For me, the underlying inspiration in all of those situations more often involves the ideas at issue than the words I’ll eventually use to express them.
What about you?
Does it all start with the first line for you or does that initial kick-start come from somewhere else?
If the first line had been “Maggie comes fleet foot / face full of black soot” instead of “Johnny’s in the basement / mixing up the medicine”, would “Subterranean Homesick Blues” be materially different?
By the way… “It’s a Bob Dylan day” wasn’t one of those inspired openers. I wish it had been.
With the risk of sounding like I’m ranting, I’d like to talk about wasting your time as a freelance writer. There has been a lot of discussion here at FWJ about where to focus your priorities. We’ve talked about building skills, about establishing a well-balanced portfolio, and about making an awesome first impression. A lot of you are taking that advice to heart, and I can only assume you’re seeing the success because of it. If not, keep pushing – good things take time to build. [Read more…]