The Oxford Dictionary offers the following definitions for the word “Zombie”:
“a corpse said to be revived by witchcraft, especially in certain African and Caribbean religions.”
“a person who is or appears lifeless, apathetic, or completely unresponsive to their surroundings.”
Ideally, you want to avoid becoming either of these things. If you follow the events of A&E’s popular show “The Walking Dead,” you probably have some great ideas about how to avoid becoming a “walker” in case of the zombie apocalypse. (My plan is to hang out with a cute guy with a crossbow.) However, avoiding “zombie writer syndrome” (ZWS) can be just as tricky.
Being a freelance content writer is challenging at times. Our deadlines occur quickly and often—sometimes they sneak up and surprise us, causing us to stay up late or get up early just to provide our client with needed content. The following tips will help you avoid ZWS—or fight the symptoms and convince the rest of the world you are, in fact, NOT one of the walking dead.
Control the Procrastination Monster – Very seldom do we as writers get projects with two-hour deadlines; but how often do we find ourselves writing a piece with only a couple of hours left on that countdown timer? As hard as it is to do, cutting back on procrastination will help you avoid those last minute late-night writing sessions that leave us grumpy and evil the next morning.
Schedules Save Lives (or at Least Your Sanity) – Even if you work at home, it is necessary to have some consistency in your life. While you may not be able to schedule every moment you write, try to set aside blocks of work time. Completing your jobs during “work time” can help you save time for all the things in life (like sleep and meals that do not come from a bag) that keep you feeling human.
Caffeine: Friend or Foe? – Is caffeine the zombie-fighting friend that always has your back, or is it the hidden evil in your midst? Many writers rely on caffeine’s power to help them fight the rampaging horde of assignments they face on a daily basis, but only you know what it does for you. For many people, limiting it to smaller doses and only drinking caffeinated beverages early in the day provides the right balance.
Technique Matters – Just like you must hold your crossbow correctly to get the best results when fighting for your life against the walking dead, you can avoid ZWS by practicing good posture. For many, a straight backed chair and table or desk at a comfortable height helps promote good posture and provide ongoing comfort. Sit comfortably, but avoid curling up on the couch for long writing sessions as this can lead to an aching back or wrists that hurt from an uncomfortable typing angle.
Hopefully these tips will save you from the agony of Zombie Writer Syndrome. After all, a zombie writer will not be able to produce the high-level content that us humans can—and if you are too zombie-like, you might find yourself on the wrong side of that crossbow!
Tracy S is a freelance writer available on WriterAccess, a marketplace where clients and expert writers connect for assignments.