Focusing Inwards: How YOU time can help unlock your creativity

Things can get pretty hectic when you’re making your own schedule. If you’re anything like me there’s a tendency to keep over booking until just a glance at your upcoming projects and deadlines seems pretty overwhelming. And of course that means cutting out your TV binge watch date, or skipping out on your morning Yoga class.

While it’s great (and profitable) to be busy overbooking yourself can be super bad for your long term creative stamina. Not only will you become physically tired (…and irritable) you will feel stifled creatively, perhaps even become blocked which creates this vicious cycle of feeling overwhelmed and wanting to write or create but not really being able to find that special spark of inspiration to help you progress. The time ticks away, you struggle to get projects done, and then once you’re rushing you can’t devote the same amount of creative energy to each project. That means you’re less satisfied with your end product and that’s not something you want to make habitual because it undermines the unique quality of your work.

People often forget that creative endeavors are a lot like fitness goals. To really be able to continually grow and improve you must learn to pace yourself and set healthy standards for yourself. As you achieve them you can increase your output and before you know it you can sustain you creative focus and get those creative juices flowing with less effort.

Also I don’t know about anyone else, but I find that sometimes when I take that step back, and have the time to back burner a project and kinda let it simmer in the back of my mind while I go relax, do my yoga, meet up with friends, listen to music or whatever I usually come up with something either while I’m relaxing or soon after returning to my desk to work. I can’t tell you how many times a phrase in a song or a line in a TV show has sparked something interesting.

But..but…time is money right? Well lemme ask you this. How long can you sustain good quality work when you are burnt out?  Not long. See freelancing isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon. The most successful freelancers know that there are times to work hard, and times to relax. They are true to their talents and they guard their creativity and nurture it. The better work you do the more attention you’ll receive the more proud and confident you will be with presenting your work to bigger more picky potential clients.

So take some time this weekend to decompress and reconnect.

How do you decompress after a really busy stretch of freelancing? Comment below!

Freelance Reflections 9/26: Dry Spells. A Blessing or a Curse?

Freelancing is much more a hunter/gatherer type venture than the steady dependable 9-5 job. When it’s feast, there’s work everywhere and you can do quite well for yourself, but even the best hunters and lead finders come up empty once and a while.

The last few months have been a FLURRY of hectic activity for me. Clients from every angle, freelance applications here, writing tests there, blogs, calls to potential clients, answering emails, white papers, articles coming out of my ears until…it all abruptly halted Monday.

In fact, it took me a day to realize I didn’t have any major deadlines and that all my clients had paid up and now I was officially in that “in-between” period waiting for my next set of jobs. At first I was nervous. But reflecting on this week I’ve decided that not all dry spells are bad.

In fact, quite the contrary. I think we all need those moments when work just stops. I took a gander around my apartment, and with freelancing, my full time job AND a whole bunch of family events the last few weeks, I hadn’t noticed that…well it needed some TLC. I think it’s so easy to get caught up in work that we forget there’s life in there too.

So this week I’ve cleaned my apartment, gotten my life in order, reminded my friends that I’m alive and well (and even available for drinks and chick flicks!) and will actually be going out Saturday to enjoy my favorite season! And I bet you I will be ready to hop back into the fray Sunday night and start all over again.

So don’t panic if you hit a bit of a dry spell, it may be the universe handing you a chill pill. So grab a glass of wine and take a deep breath. A well rested freelancer is a MORE profitable freelancer.  Here’s to enjoying a well earned rest!

Freelance Reflections 5/23

This week has kinda been a bit hectic. With family issues and a whole lot of other things happening all at the same time I’ve kinda been struggling with my deadlines because let’s face it…sometimes life just HAPPENS.

At the beginning of this week I had made a promise to myself. I said, “Self, this week has a lot going on, maybe you shouldn’t take on a boatload of assignments. Maybe make up for it next week, when you have a extra day over the weekend to relax.”

But I didn’t listen. By Thursday I had so many assignments and so much to do that I felt like I couldn’t do my best.

I called it Beginner’s Desperation.  So often first time freelancers are project hungry and sometimes your eyes are bigger than your stomach. What I learned this week is that the time I take to do my work WELL is more rewarding than completing a lot of assignments at not my highest level.

In the beginning take your time. Breathe. Organize your thoughts. You want to IMPRESS people not just COMPLETE assignments.

From now on I’ll take my time, accept only what i KNOW i can complete and NOTHING MORE per week. It just makes me feel burnt out and it’s way too early in the game for that!

So relax this weekend, recharge your batteries and come back fighting on Tuesday! Have a safe and wonderful Memorial Day!

Freelance Reflections 5/16

It’s been a busy week here at Camp Write Away.  Put in a number of pitches to some clients. I will probably spend most of the weekend getting some writing assessment tests done for some others so that we can continue to grow and have even more happy customers!

It’s nice to feel busy and to continually be finding people who are interested in your work. This week has also been personally challenging and I think that many freelancers not only have to juggle everything that has to do with their business but also all that extra life stuff (and many of us also have part or full time jobs on TOP of all this so to those other Freelancing Superheroes happy to have made it through this week, hats off to you!)

I hear from a lot of people considering becoming freelancers that they would freelance BUT they could never work from home because they’d get distracted and whatnot. My response generally is well that’s not the only way you can freelance! Many agencies hire onsite freelancers so you can work in a nice cool office if you want to freelance but definitely can’t bring yourself to work from home.

For others who don’t relish the idea of travelling to a strange office every couple weeks but who also struggle with focusing during work hours at work my suggestion is this. Create a space in your home that is YOUR work space. Keep it clean organized and SEPARATE from the rest of your living spaces. I put my home writing office in my bedroom, away from the TV the phone, the kitchen, and the bathroom where I’d feel tempted to clean or cook. And when I sit down theren I have a strict no social media policy. Unless it’s business related I keep my cell phone away from me on silent so I’m not tempted to update it or keep checking it. Also, being an at home worker requires inner discipline, get into the “at work habit” which means that you should get dressed, washed, shaved, and have a schedule just like you would at a regular job. This makes it feel less like a hobby and more like a professional endeavor.

*stretch* well those are my thoughts about this week. Join me next Friday for more ramblings and thoughts about freelancing!