Freelancing is, by definition, an amorphous job, and some people love that. I always tell friends that it’s not like I’m dying to finish up work at 2 a.m., but the fact I have the option is thrilling to me. That little tidbit alone should tell you I have trouble with scheduling.
And this is a problem because it’s usually the first tip you find online to succeed at freelancing. Make a schedule, stick to it, and you’ll inevitably get more done. But writing isn’t always so straightforward, and there are times when it’s better to ditch those carefully planned blocks of time. (Just probably not as much as *I* do it.)
1. You Bypassed Productive an Hour Ago
Just because the words won’t come to you, doesn’t mean you need to give up immediately. But if you’re staring at the same sentence you were 15 minutes ago, it’s probably time to take a break. The same goes if you find yourself booting up social media for a half-hour just because you can’t find a synonym for ‘quiet’.
But what do you actually do during this time?
I’m a firm believer in doing things that make you feel good about yourself when you’re unable to crank out that last article. So if you actually feel good reading endless Twitter posts and you know you’ll return with a fresh eye whenever you’re done, then more power to you! But seriously, I don’t think you people actually exist. If you need to do something mindless, simple cleaning tasks may be a good way out of this dilemma. You may actually find that you’re dying to get back to writing if you try that tack.
2. You Have a Tremendous Opportunity
When I first started freelancing, I can legitimately say that I couldn’t keep a standard schedule and still be successful. This is my experience and doesn’t have to translate to you, but I couldn’t have made the progress (or money) I did if I hadn’t been willing to work on the weekends, weeknights, late nights, etc.
Telling a single mom or the caretaker of elderly parents to ‘just work whenever!’ is both insulting and lame. But if you have a last-minute opportunity come up and you can make it work, I would suggest going after it whenever possible.
When it comes to qualifying opportunities, this will obviously depend on where you are in the game. If you’re still getting started in freelancing, a tremendous opportunity could look like some of the lowest-paying work in the business. When I first got started, I took Craigslist jobs that were so obviously scams it was pretty ridiculous. At the end of the day though, it all helped me build a portfolio. Maybe not a good one…but still.
3. You Want to Break the Rules
I have an obnoxiously defiant personality. I don’t want to do what other people tell me to do, but not nearly as much as I don’t want to do things I tell myself to do. Freelancing helps me exploit this characteristic sometimes. It allows me to do things like, I don’t know, work at 2 a.m.
Altering a schedule can give you a delicious sensation of being just a little bit defiant without going overboard. It can help you build up positive feelings toward your job, which can encourage you to come back again and again.
Danger Will Robinson
It sounds all well and good to say that you’ll get back to it, but what if you find that you just build up the dread in your brain? Or what if you find that the break you took hasn’t done anything to clear your brain? Or what if rabid raccoons attacked you when you took that refreshing walk and broke all your fingers?
I won’t lie, it’s a double-edged sword to ditch your schedule, especially if you have income goals that will suffer for it. If I had the answer for all these things, I could turn all of you into successful freelancers. But the truth is that there are no simple solutions for this one. At some point, you’ll just have to get back on the horse (without punishing yourself for being off it).
If you want to learn more about what it really means to be a freelancer, WriterAccess has a blog that’s full of it! Of course, when I say ‘it’, I mean totally helpful information.
Meredith S. has completed thousands of writing assignments across a number of different verticals, including tech security, real estate, and insurance. She has a bachelors degree in Psychology, and just under two decades of professional experience in the working world. She seeks out opportunities to gain a broader perspective of the world so her pieces are well-rounded and useful to the reader. With a career that spans several industries, Meredith has a practical sense of the world. She works hard to keep the reader both interested and entertained by approaching topics with a fresh voice. Her understanding of how and why search engines change their algorithms makes her an asset for clients looking to improve their SEO.