The Struggling Writer

The chronicles of a freelance writer as he tries to make a living.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

I'm still here...

I'm still struggling a little with this whatever-it-was but I'm mostly over it. I've spent the last several days catching up on a lot of personal nonsense that got behind while I was sick. I also have a personal website that I moved to a new host and used that as an excuse to redesign the site, which took a couple of days. Here's a piece of advice...when you move your website to a new host, don't forget to set up email as well. For about 36 hours all of my personal email addresses (and I have several) weren't configured on the new host so any mail just went off into the internet ether. Oops.

Today I'm just exhausted. I'll do a few minor things, but mostly I'm going to take it easy. I'll get back to things tomorrow. Yes, I know I say that every day. The thing about us procrastinators is that we honestly believe we are going to get back to things tomorrow ;)

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Website design

While I continue to try and get my website going, I found a number of good website design articles. I hope to have at least a rough draft of my site done on paper today and have at least the initial index page done soon.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Writing for trade publications

I'm still feeling pretty wonky, but at least I'm finally getting a little work done.

I found an interesting thread on writing for trade publications. There have been other threads over at the Absolute Write Water Cooler that have been discussing how hard it is to make good money writing articles. One problem is that there is a lot of competition for consumer magazines. Trade publications have less (much less!) competition and pay very well. You don't necessarily need to be an expert in the field; the thread gives some good examples of non-expert articles. It's definitely something I'll have to look in to.

My best long-term bet is to get the technical writing part of my career going. Right now I'm focussing on getting my website going. I'm getting bogged down in design, which is not what I should be focussing on. I should get a simple design from some place like Open Source Web Design or Open Web Design and focus on the copy rather than the appearance. I can always tweak it later. It's a classic writer problem: anything to avoid the blank page.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

The sick freelancer

I continue to struggle to get back to my writing schedule. I’m feeling better, though I still hack up pieces of lung now and then. I’m sleeping 10+ hours a day plus trying to get caught up with everything else that’s gone by the wayside.

And yet, since I try and be brutally honest about myself in this blog, most of the above is just excuses. As I’ve said, I’m bad at self-motivation. If I have a project and a deadline, I’ll work to exhaustion. But if the only person around to disappoint is me, then I tend to make excuses. Yes, I was sick, and the sickest I’ve been in many years. But I’ve been better for several days. The last two days have been flat-out lazy days that I accomplished almost nothing even though I could have if I’d pushed myself.

One thing I am trying to do is ignore the past and focus on the future. I can’t do anything about lost opportunities yesterday. I can get my time in today and do the best I can.

I have been thinking about what I would have done in a real job during this time. Every job I’ve had has a rule about needing a doctor’s excuse if you are sick more than 3 days. I’ve always felt that if I’m well enough to go to the doctor, I’m well enough to go to work. I also feel that it’s silly to go to the doctor if you’ve been sick only three days; I didn’t go until I’d been sick a week. Besides, who wants to spend three hours in a germ-ridden urgent care waiting room?

What would I have done in a regular job? I would have done what everyone does – I would have gone to work sick. I would have gotten everyone else sick, and done a lousy job on top of that. How would that have helped things?

I have also thought about the idea of busywork. The other jobs I’ve worked all have some kind of busywork: filing, data entry, weighing test tubes, etc. It’s work that needs to be done, but doesn’t require much attention. It’s the perfect kind of thing to do on days you just aren’t at 100%. The thing I found with my freelance programming was that there was no busywork. It required my full concentration all the time. I’m finding the same thing with writing. I kept trying to find things to do while I was sick, even things as simple as reading the writer forums I like. And yet, I couldn’t do even that.

In freelance, if you don’t work, you don’t get paid. There are no excuses, no crutches that let you slide by now and then. I actually happen to like that. I don’t want to get paid if I’m not working to my full potential. However, it can make things hard during times like this.