Staying Productive During Slow Times

Monday, November 08, 2010

As a freelance, especially a full-timer who relies on steady income, it's important to find some kind of balance with my cash flow. If there's one constant in freelance, it's this: some months are busier than others.

How do I handle those slow moments? I tackle my "to do when I have time" list. No, this laundry list isn't filled with household chores. It's not a "honey do" slate of activities I'm unable to execute, like the one I have for my husband.

Instead, this list pertains to my writing business. Here are a few ways I keep occupied when I'm between assignments:
  • Contact editors at places I've been published. If I haven't written for a particular magazine or newspaper for a few months or even a few years, I draw up a list of ideas and pitch them. Immediately.
  • Review old files. What articles can I update for a new feature? Which articles can be revised and sold as a reprint?
  • Update my portfolio. I like to add my latest work and hopefully, my portfolio shows how I've expanded my expertise.
  • Revise my website. Now, don't make this task more difficult than it sounds! Remove old articles and links, add new clips, update news. This process can be a time sucker! I just finished scanning 10 years of clips and am going to finally add my best pieces in a variety of formats.
  • Clean the office. Or, as my husband says, rearrange the junk. It's organized chaos, but I know where everything is located. I give my desk a thorough cleaning, file paperwork, and rearrange the furniture. Change does a writer good! :)
  • Research. I've mentioned it before, but I'm a Post-It note queen. When inspiration strikes, I jot it on a post it and stick it to any available space on my desk. This is when I begin grabbing those individual notes of goodness and decide my strategy for my next project.
  • Network. This task isn't just for down time. Writers should always be networking and promoting their work.

At some point, every writer will experience a slow down. It's the natural ebb and flow of the writing business. Having a plan of attack for those calm moments will keep you focused on the writing bottom line.

Blog post and photo by LuAnn Schindler. Visit LuAnn's "I-need-some-down-time-so-I-can-update-my-website" website at


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