Freelance Lessons: Stay Open

imagesSo, today is one of those mornings.  The puppy is recovering from her spay and has hit the point of being recovered enough to have tons of energy, but she’s still on medical restriction. The dog next door won’t stop barking, and since we’ve been in several arguments about this already, I’ve taken to now getting up and recording it each time she starts up, so I have that for the authorities, if need be. I got a sliver under my fingernail, and I nearly tripped down the basement steps, very mercifully not falling or spraining my ankle, but it was close (thank you yoga and Pilates).

The past week has been one of interrupted routines, holidays and so forth, and the week coming up will be the same way. Lets say writing has been sporadic at best. These are the challenges of being a freelancer, and working from home. People say “close yourself in an office and don’t come out.” Well, maybe your life works that way, but mine doesn’t.  For one thing, the door on my office isn’t soundproof, and part of the reason I work from home is to be in my life, not separated from it.

Still, needless to say, writing requires focus under the best circumstances, but it’s a lot harder when you are facing these kinds of obstacles one on top of the other.  But there are things you can do:

  1. Complain to friends on Facebook, who then tell you to blog about it. (I have smart friends.)
  2. Write a blog about it (hey, it’s still writing).
  3. Take note that the dogs are now quiet, I didn’t fall or sprain, and I am writing something.
  4. Move on to the next thing.

So, moving on.

Suggestion two from a friend on Facebook was to talk about some of the writing I’m doing. One recent foray is into writing verses and quips for greeting cards – I’ve done research on companies, read cards on the shelf at the store, and I have to admit, I never knew this was a writing route until someone suggested it to me.  So, I tried it. What the heck? I put in some card ideas and verses to different companies each week, and found it a fun, relaxing thing to do.

I find the sentimental material easier, but not as much fun, to write. I prefer the short, humorous stuff that I never thought I would be very good at, to be honest, but I have gotten one bite from a studio who seems to like what I submitted, so we’ll see what happens. No sale yet, but a response, which is a very good thing.

I’ve written 93K novels and 800 word short stories… but a greeting card, that is a new challenge altogether, and it’s probably some of the most fun I’ve ever had writing. It’s such a challenge, and yet, immediate gratification all at once.

Trying to find a spin on something that says “I love you” “Happy Birthday” “Happy Anniversary” etc that hasn’t been put out there yet? Not easy! And to resist the low-hanging fruit of obvious puns or word play… but, when I clinch what I hope is a neat verse  or humorous idea for a card, it’s as satisfying as any novel I’ve written.  I am excited to see my first card on the shelf one of these days. It will happen, because I’m not giving up.

Past that, I like the efficiency of writing for cards and other short-text freelance (like some real estate and travel writing, catalog descriptions, etc). It serves a very practical purpose, and yet is still really creative in ways I never imagined.  It’s straightforward, as are the people who edit and buy it – there might be some revision, but it’s all very clear. It’s not like someone is messing with your soul, like it can feel sometimes with writing fiction.

How refreshing.

Also, in the pay-per-word market, you can’t beat greeting cards, which will pay somewhere in the area of $75-$300 for text and verse – and the longest you’re looking at there is maybe a hundred words or so on the really long ones.  So you feel really valued, which is nice.

Sure, you might only sell one in ten ideas, if that, but it’s also like any kind of freelance writing – once you establish you’re a serious writer, and you get a toe in the door with an editor who likes your work, you can do well. Most of all, it’s something I never knew about, but also never really considered until it was in front of me.

I’ve realized lately that “stay open” is a cardinal rule of the freelance lifestyle. Never think lets-weather-it-together-encouragement-greeting-card-single-01_1of any work as something you can’t do, wouldn’t like, or wouldn’t be good at – give it a try and see what happens. You might uncover hidden talents and make a little money as well.

Also, be open – if I hadn’t been open about my miserable morning on Facebook, I wouldn’t have gotten the suggestions for this blog. I had to be open about my stress, and then be open to people’s suggestions. In my career, I have to be open to new possibilities and projects.

It’s worth it to share when things aren’t going well as well as when they are – maybe it helps even up the odds, so that we can get past the tough spots, and get back to work.

What do you think?



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