It’s almost like having a baby — you understand that the first few months are difficult. You just don’t understand quite how difficult until you’re desperately trying to keep your head above water while you learn on the fly.
Yes, I’m talking about the freelancing career you’ve just begun.
You heard that it takes months to land a job. That you barely make anything for the first year (or more!). You understand that you’ll be facing rejection or, worse, complete silence from the publications on your wish list.
You’ll feel demoralized. Your courage will take a knock, as will your self-esteem. You’ll have moments of incredible self-doubt. There will be days when you’re positive you don’t have what it takes to be a freelance writer and you’ll want to give it all up.
But don’t. Really! You have to keep going and you can succeed as a freelancer — there’s no reason to abandon your dream.
Here are five tips to help you keep going when the going gets rough:
1. Put the voices into a box (and lock the lid)
You know those voices in your head, the ones screaming horribly malicious words at you? Those voices that keep telling you that you’re a bad writer and you need to quit? Those are all just thoughts in your head and the best thing to do is pack those voices in a box and lock the lid tightly. Almost everyone believes their doubtful internal voice every now and then.
Here’s a meditation trick: turn your discouraging thoughts into clouds in the sky. Watch them as they drift by. They don’t have any bearing on your actual being (or writing) because they’re just thoughts. It’ll take practice, but the imagery can help.
2. Read new sources
Stuck in a rut? Have you written article after article, sent out pitch letter after pitch letter only to be rejected, or worse, hear nothing at all? Try seeking new resources.
Read books and blogs, look through websites, download eBooks, and browse your local bookstore or Amazon.com. Seek out the self-help section as your local library. Learn more about methods to approach editors successfully. You can even search the continuing education classes at your local college or university. You’ll discover new information that will help you craft a successful method of approaching editors and clients alike.
3. Take a deep breath
Really. Right now. Take a deep breath. Take another one. Deep breath in, deep breath out. Breathing helps you take a step back. It allows you to step out of your current head space so you’re not so lost in your thoughts, the details, and your emotions.
Sometimes all you need is perspective to keep the dark thoughts at bay and keep writing.
4. Write every day
It’s easy to let lack of success steal your inspiration. Low spirits dry out your will to write.
But you’ll need to keep your creativity flowing to be in top writing form when you do start finding jobs. So write a little every day.
Write for 10 minutes, 20 minutes, even to a specific number of words. Free write, write on topics that interest you, or write something that could be useful down the road. But just write!
5. Just keep going
Really. When all else fails, just keep going. It’s true what they say — creating a successful freelance career takes a lot of work and a lot of time. You’ll hit bumps along the road and there will be many times when you feel like giving up. Even though it may not seem like it, you’ll get there. Every “yes” gets you closer to your goal.
Beginning a freelance career can be scary, especially when you have bills to pay. It’s also completely worth it to free your creative passion on a daily basis. Keep going—you’ll get there!
What tips would you add to encourage a new freelancer?