You Finished Your Freelance Writing Project—What Now?

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A few posts ago, I talked about how it feels to be a freelance writer. Specifically, I talked about how it feels to come to the end of a project. It feels great and terrible. On the one hand, it’s great not to have that deadline breathing down your neck for a change. On the other hand, if you use your freelance writing career to contribute significantly to your income, finishing a big assignment can be scary as you start trying to find another one.

Here are some tips for what to do when you’ve finished that big freelance writing project:

  1. Freelance writing project finished...what now?Don’t take a break the second you finish because you aren’t ready yet. You need to do some really important stuff first, such as:
    • Back up your files in two different places, one of which is not on your computer.
    • File all the research you used.
    • Make sure your contracts are somewhere accessible and fireproof.
    • Clean off your desk.
    • All of these tasks matter because they are going to help you if your editor calls. You’ll know where things are and that you can look them up quickly if you need to.
  2. Next, check on where you are with your other freelance writing deadlines and make a new calendar if you need to. Rushing to get that red-hot project finished can often push everything else out of the way so you are left with other dates in a shambles. Reset your targets.
  3. After you have done steps 1 and 2, then you have really earned a break. Start planning it. It can be a real vacation, or just time to read, clean your house, play with your kids, and watch TV instead of working every night—whatever you can afford, and whatever you find relaxing. For me, the amount of family- and me-time I gave up to finish this recent writing project was tremendous. I think my whole family earned some time off, not just me! But, I do have another book to wrap up and a day job, so I can’t play too much hooky.
  4. Finally, before you fly the coop, meet with your prospects. This is VERY IMPORTANT! I have already chatted with powers that be about prospective freelance writing projects. The reason is that rest and relaxation spawn more creativity than anything else. I was watching Mad Men a few nights ago and the creatives were trying to come up with ideas for pitching Jaguar. And how were they doing it? By sitting in a room around a table covered with a mess of leftover takeout food cartons. Sure, someone brought in lobster, but that was about it for inspiring creativity. Why didn’t they get out into the city and walk around? Go take another test drive? Go out on a boat somewhere? It was ridiculous. And if you have been cooped up at your desk writing, your creative reserves are probably tapped, too. Getting out and about when the pressure is off is a great way to start the juices flowing again. So, start thinking about what you might want to do next (or what the publishing powers that be might want you to do) before you leave. It may make your next freelance writing assignment that much easier.

 

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