Why “Making Time to Write” Is a Bullshit Excuse (And You Know I’m Right!)

Just a little while ago I attempted (keyword) to finish an article published in a magazine about writing. The title had something to do with saying yes to yourself as a writer. And the author lauded on and on about…well, frankly, I couldn’t tell you. She talked about getting lost on social media. She talked about savings quotes on Google Drive. She talked about hearing from another writer that they get up at 5 am to make time to write. Having been an exemplary member of the 5 am Club for a long time, I understand finding quiet time. With that, I have no argument.

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The Quick Cure for Pigeonholes

I think that most of us can agree that being pigeonholed sucks. If you don’t know what that term means, it means that because you’ve worked in a certain industry for an extensive time (or did certain things for an extensive amount of time), one or more persons (or businesses) think that you can’t do anything else.

And If You’re a Freelance Writer, It Can Hurt Your Business

As a freelance writer (or an editor…or, really, any sort of freelancer), there’s a big likelihood of sticking with the same sorts of projects or working with the same industry over and over again. They like what we do. We know what we’re doing.

Yet, interviewing in other industries for other work can cause the new potential client to determine, without really getting to know you or putting a lot of attention toward what you sent, that you’re not right for the job because you don’t have a substantial history working in THEIR industry. They pigeonhole you. You can’t be qualified because you haven’t worked exclusively in their world. You know, you haven’t been THEIR bird in a gilded cage. You were someone else’s bird in a gilded cage.

It has the potential to leak much suckage into your business. Because, you know, how the fuck can you grow your business (and experience) if people do that?

The good news is, I have a quick cure.

Know Thyself

Don’t worry – I’m not about to get all philosophical on you. What I mean by “know thyself” is to make sure that you can recall each project you’ve worked on with similar features OR that is exactly the same (on the same subject or what have you). Make sure that you have samples (and publication links) ready. And take the time to listen to what they’re saying as they speak. There’s a good chance that they really didn’t take the time to look at the samples they requested. Trust me, I know. I was asked for samples. I sent two. One was an ebook snip and one was a textbook snip; they weren’t related. The potential client stated I sent two samples of legal writing. One was on leadership. The other was on adolescent psychology.

From there, I went forward and discussed published clips where I had written extensively for the legal industry about the specific idea this person had for a project (to show my subject matter expertise).

Whether or not I get the work still remains to be seen. My point in sharing this is to explain to you that you don’t have to get flustered or feel bad because someone pigeonholes you. If you know your previous projects inside out, you’ll find a way to relate it back.

Tip for Those Who Hire Freelance Writers

Typewriter

Hey everyone! Today, I have a tip for those who hire freelance writers. That tip is this: freelance writers can’t read your mind. If there’s something specific you want highlighted in your blog or in your web page content, you need to ensure that your freelance writer knows.

This is equally true during the editing process. Many freelance writers will provide a round or two of edits for no additional charge. This is because we want our clients to be happy and to consider us for future work. However,

When you read what’s sent to you and you want something changed, your freelance writer needs a comment that’s more than, “This isn’t what we do,” “This isn’t true,” or a similar piece of feedback.

Why?

Well, because it doesn’t tell us anything. If you’re seeing something that doesn’t truly represent what you do or that isn’t true of YOUR business, you need to tell us what it is that you want to see.

Often, when a freelance writer is hired, a client has no real idea of what they want to see on their site or blog. They just know they need content. It isn’t until they see a draft from their writer that they know if that’s what they want or if they’re inspired to now know what they want to see.

Yet, again, freelance writers aren’t mind readers. If clients don’t tell us in the beginning¬†or during the editing process what they want to see (and tell us in detail), we can’t give you what you want.

Yes, it really is that simple.

Hey, Kids, This One’s for You!

I have the honor of (gently) editing a full-length YA novel that an old friend of mine sent me. His daughter wrote it. She’s a teenager. The other day when I stopped by a birthday party for my friend’s now two-year-old daughter, I was approached by another teenage girl who knows what I do. She asked me how she could write and publish a book.

So, kids (big and small!), this post is just for you. (Don’t worry, parents and other sensitive types – this post is profanity free and G rated for your protection!)¬† Continue reading