Monday, February 18, 2008

Healthy Freelance Writer, Healthy Freelance Writing...

I just started a fast for religious reasons and on day two I realize I am woefully addicted to sugar. The fast is not a total food fast, just a stay away from fried foods, refined sugar, caffeine or carbonated drinks - you know, how you're supposed to eat as a grown up.

My brain was so sluggish yesterday, it took me 3 hours to come up with an idea for my column, I barely budged from the couch and I needed a Snickers bad.

I started thinking about how I would make it through today without any chocolate - let me tell you, it didn't look good. But today I had my healthy whole grain ceral with skim milk, sauteed a couple mushrooms with cold, baked chicken I had in the fridge, added some spinach and extra virgin olive oil and bam, lunch was healthy, fab and colorful.

Working from home can lead to awful eating habits. Fast food, high sugar snacks and long periods in front of the computer makes an unhealthy writer and when you're not feeling your best as a writer you have a harder time coming with ideas, you have less energy to devote to work. So basically, being a lazy, fat butt costs you money.

Think about that and I'll try not to think about that Snickers...

What healthy habits help keep you on track?

Friday, February 8, 2008

What's Your Routine?

Humans are creatures of habits, we have our routines and boy is it hard to shake us out of them.

As a writer, I have a morning routine that when I think about it is pretty funny. So on this Fun Friday I'll share with you all my very private, very real routine. (Did you really just lean into the monitor? You are sucha gossip!)

  • I wake up, move my 9 month-old closer to the center of the bed, because at some point during the night she's woken up and I've passed out with her instead of putting her back in the crib.

  • I hit the bathroom to defunk myself and put my hair up in a very stylish scrunchy bun. It's the height of writer couture. Usually, I'm fishing a pen out of it from the previous day.

  • I stumble down the hallway, fall into my chair and power up my MAC.

  • Then I remember I forgot to pray and I stumble back up the hall to go to my spot.

  • By now I'm awake enough to start the self-guilting so I go get breakfast and plop in front of CNN/MSNBC to watch the news.

  • When I make it back to the computer in 15 mins or so I hit the iTunes. "Hustlin'" by Rick Ross blares out of my laptop. It's not a politically correct song, but it gets me going -"Everyday I'm hustlin', Everyday I'm hustlin'...Real hard..."

  • Then I settle down to work.

You can set your watch by me. The only time things change is if one of the girls has a doctor's appointment early in the morning or if Dave makes me breakfast. Then, I stop to coo over him and then turn on "Hustlin'."

What's your routine?

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

How to Break Up with a Client

Deborah Ng over at FreelanceWritingGigs.Com talked about this a little bit ago, but some things are really worthy of repeating.

Sometimes, you've got to break up with a client. It's just gotta happen. Whether you're unhappy with the gig or you're changing your focus or you've got more work than you can handle sometimes you've got to send that email or make that phone call giving your client notice.

So how do you do it?

  1. Finish the work assigned. The gig may be agony - a very wrong fit for you, but the client selected and is depending on you to finish up before you move on.

  2. Give the client plenty of notice. Some gigs take the HR department time to fill, which if the gig has an HR department, bureaucracy states it will take time. Other gigs, like a daily blog, really need time to find your fill-in so that the blog itself isn't left in lurch.

  3. Put down the blowtorch. You may want to burn that bridge to smithereens, but it usually smarter to preserve that contact. You never know where or when you may need them.

  4. State plainly why you're leaving. A lot of us writers are semi-hermits. We want to be nice, maybe avoid confrontation, avoid the dirty subject of money or rights. Phooey. Grab your respective reproductive organs and talk about the issue:

    • "I feel I'm not a good fit for this position."

    • "I am pursuing a position in the same field that pays more."

    • "I'd like to pursue this subject in a venue in which I only give up First North American Serial Rights."

    • You're a stinky poo-poo face and I don't like your shoes."

I'm kidding about the poo-poo face. Never tell a client they just suck. It's tempting, but let's be professional people.

The funny thing is when you let people know you need more money, are too busy with other work, etc., if you're good, they will often try to meet your terms.

Everyone wants the "it girl" of blogging on their site. It's like the whole you're-never-more-popular-with-the-opposite-sex-until-you-get-into-a-long-term relationship phenomenon.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Signs of a Bad Freelance Gig

Bad gigs are like bad relationships, often we want one so badly we are willing to ignore the bad stuff. Other times we walk blindly into a bad gig because we're new or naive. Lastly, we may take a gig and all the heck that comes with it because we see dollar signs.

As it is a new year and we are all trying to do better, here are some signs of a bad gig:

  • It's! Too! Damn! Exciting! Tricia Grissom pointed this out in her Anti-Goals for the new year blog post. When a gig! Has! To tell you! It's all that! It usually ain't. Avoid the show-offs, real gigs don't have to hype themselves up.

  • The terms keep changing. "Blog twice a week for $12, wait, no, let's do a blog every day for $5. No wait, um, I need at least a 500 word blog everyday for 5% commissions, no wait..." If they can't commit you need to dip.

  • Freelance Lotharios. They woo you with promises of a regular gig if you just give them a little bit for free. "Send me 10 articles or blogs so I can really see if you've got it." "Come on baby, just let me see the lead in." You give in and they never call you again.

  • They're so mysterious. No company email, just a Craigslist post. And when they contact you, they want to know all about you, but play who they are close to the vest. You don't want to get to know them - trust me.

  • Freelance whores. They're giving a shot to every Tom, Kim and Bad Writer. There are no real requirements, just be ready baby. Watch out - you'll catch the"bad site as a clip" cooties. The only cure - a big shot of collecting better clips to live down that one

  • Freelance Pimps. They've got a stable of writers they put to work everyday. You make all the money for them in terms of traffic and ad dollars and they kick back a little for you to get some new paper clips. "Who else is going to take care of you like I do baby? I get you exposure. There are plenty of ho's, um writers, who'd love to work for me. Fifty articles at $4 is the big time. Now get out there and make my money."

  • Dr. Jekyll, Mr. Hyde. Oh they're just perfect, until they're not. Email bitch-slaps and article shake-downs are just a few methods of intimidation these suckers use.

  • Please sir, may I have some more? They're sweet, and new, and small. These publications have the best intentions and none of the funds. "If you could just give me a little free stuff to get me started, then I'm sure I'll be able to pay you, I swear, in like a year, or 5..."

  • The Absent Minded Professor. They run their business like a batty old woman's antique shop. Things are jumbled, they lose articles and don't have much in the till.

  • Mr. Boring. You've been together forever and can write an article for them in your sleep. It's routine and you're bored. Wake me when you print.

Kick the bad to the curb, sure you never know what you're going to get and that may be exciting, but on the flip side you never know what you're going to get. And while Mr. Boring may be dependable, you'll suffer like the other Desperate Writers who plug away each day, hoping for something exciting to happen. You may fall in with one of the bad ones, just to see what it's like and get burned.

The gig in shining armor? The one where payment shows up on time, where they display a level of professionalism that reminds you of the days of chivalry without the sexist undertones.

The gig is mutually beneficial - you get great clips, they get a great product.They know what they want and are discriminating, no dangling participles with them. You get the umph in your tummy when you see your article in print. They're just, *sigh.*

Got any signs of a bad gig? Do share.

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