Wednesday, May 30, 2007


A blank screen has been staring at me for three hours now. The clock ticks down. My deadline is getting closer. It’s like the old game show Name That Tune. Yes, Bob, I can write that article in less than 30 minutes. . . .

Writers debate a lot about procrastination. In general, it is looked at as if it is a bad thing, like you have some flaw in your character if you procrastinate.

I’ll admit it now. I’m the world’s greatest procrastinator. Granted, my editors might not want to hear that, but I get my work done and the work I produce is pretty good. I work better under the gun.

A friend of mine told me that she has a deadline of October 1 for an article that she began to research back in February. Nearly 9 months to write an article? Yikes. She is struggling to write it and finish it. I’d be the same way. Oh heck, I would have stopped thinking about that article until September.

And in fact, something like that did happen to me last year. I was given an assignment with a 4-month deadline. It wasn’t something that was going to require a lot of research, so I marked a few notes to myself on my calendar when I planned to start again and promptly forgot about it. Two months in, my editor began to email me – where is the article?

The editor accused me of procrastination. She worried that I wouldn’t give her the article she wanted. She worried I’d be late. The article was on time and she loved it, and she asked me to pitch again. I decided not to.

One of the things I love about freelancing is working at my own pace. I am usually juggling five to six articles at any given time, so I know how to spread out my work to make the most efficient use of my time.

Is it procrastination when you get your work done on time, even though you find yourself racing the clock, knowing you do your best work under pressure?

My opinion has long been, like everything else in writing, you have to do what works best for you. If you like working with long deadlines and pull your article together early so you can play around with rewrites, that’s fine. But if you don’t, that’s fine, too.

However, if you are playing 50 straight games of solitaire to avoid the article at hand, that’s a whole different story.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Working on the Weekend

When I worked in the office, I lived for weekends and holidays and anytime I didn't have to go to work. Even with jobs I loved, I dreaded Sunday nights (or Mondays on the long weekend) and knowing I had to get up early the next day and spend my days working for someone else and being with people I didn't necessarily like.

So, one of the things I like best about working as a freelancer is that lack of dread on Sunday nights. I make my own hours. I love that.

But one of the big adjustments has been that sometimes I don't get holidays. Like this weekend. I have been on my computer every spare moment, working on a bitch of an editing project. I hadn't procrastinated on the thing, but it has turned out to be so complicated that I can only concentrate on it for a few minutes at a time before my brain goes haywire. And that means it has taken me much longer than expected to finish it. I had hoped to have Saturday and Sunday to do things around the house, but instead, I've been parked here, working.

Oh, I still went out and had some fun. But this evening, instead of finishing the book I started reading last week or writing a letter or goofing around on Yahoo games, I'm working. (This blog is a break.) I hope I finish the editing tonight before I go to sleep. I'm beginning to doubt it. And that will mess up my day tomorrow.

Tomorrow. The holiday. I had no intentions on taking it as a holiday. Instead, I wanted to take advantage of not getting phone calls or emails. I was going to write and get caught up or ahead or something. But that likely won't happen now.

I know a lot of my writer friends try not to work on the weekends or holidays. I try not to as well. But sometimes you have to. When you take the job, you're responsible for getting it done. There's a lot of flexibility with this job, which is one of its best points, but the trade off is working when others have the day off.

Friday, May 25, 2007

The Inaugural Post

After much deliberation, I decided to create a writing blog. I suppose it makes sense. I'm a writer. Not "I want to be a writer." I *am* a writer. It's what I do for a living. It's what I do to survive.

This blog will talk about my writing, about the business of writing, about my frustrations and triumphs. I'll add book reviews and maybe interviews and answer questions. To those of you whom I strong-armed to read this puppy, I expect you to comment and ask me questions.

Mostly, I will record my journey I've taken on my dream career. I've been freelancing full time now since May 1, 2005. The most fateful moment in my career life came on January 3, 2005, when my boss walked into the office I shared with a co-worker and said, "My funding has run out. You need to find another job. Soon."

At first I panicked. I'd been down that road before, needing to find another job elsewhere on the campus I worked. I'd been in the soft money situation before. I hated it. I hated the interview and pretending to be perky and interested in jobs that I didn't want but needed to have. A nasty twist in my job history -- a Cruella DeVille boss -- cut me off from the type of job I wanted, was good at, was qualified for.

My husband, however, was oddly serene. Usually that role is reversed. Instead of worrying, he whisked me away for an anniversary trip to Aruba when I had no idea if I'd have a job much longer when we returned. I'd been freelancing on top of my regular jobs, and I was making a little money. He told me, "If you think you can make a little more money with your writing, we can survive. You supported me when I needed it. It's my turn to support your dreams."

So I took the plunge. I had a couple of safety nets in place for a couple of months, but by fall, I had a book contract and one or two regular clients. And I'd never been happier.

It hasn't all been easy. There were some very lean months as I figured out what I was doing and how the business worked. Now my schedule is busy and the month's invoice, while they go up and down, are fairly consistent. If my average keeps up, I'll make a tidy income. Not where I want to be, but much more than I would have been making if I was still working in my old job. And a million times happier.