Break Through "The Skids"

Thursday, August 18, 2011

As economic times worsen, writers struggle to stay afloat between assignments or book deals.

Competition for assignments is fierce, especially in this age where anyone can think he or she is a writer. One thread of a LinkedIn group I belong to talks about giving up freelancing after three decades in the business because so many newbies (and wannabes) agree to write an article for pennies on the dollar.

Those of us who have been in the business for years - and who expect to fairly compensated for our skills and time - understand the ebb and flow of the publishing industry.

Sometimes, we simply hit the skids.

But it doesn't mean we like it.

How can a writer protect herself when the phone doesn't ring and your email inbox is as desolate as a lonely stretch of highway?

Let's look at five ways to straighten out your career when it hits the brakes.
  1. Query: You won't make a sale if you fail to pitch ideas. I'm lucky to have developed an ongoing relationship with a regional newspaper so I usually have a steady stream of sales, but I still take the time to submit queries to other newspapers and magazines. And I still receive the occasional rejection letter or email. One of the best pieces of advice I've heard came from Hope Clark from Funds for Writers. She talked about the rule of 13 and having 13 queries in play. I took her advice. It works. I like to have 13 queries out at a time, and if I receive a rejection, I fine tune the pitch and find a new market. It's common sense. Each query ups your odds of a sale.
  2. Observe: Keep your eyes and ears open. You never know when you'll hear a snippet of conversation that sparks an idea. Take note of what's going on around you, too. You may hit on the latest trend, and that can lead to a possible sale.
  3. Recycle: In the land of home staging, this may also be called repurposing. If I find that I don't a lot of new assignments coming in, and especially if the ideas just aren't flowing, I go through my previous articles and see if I can reslant it for a new market. Reprints require a minimal time investment but can lead to load of extra cash.
  4. Chill: At some point, you will hit a dry spell. It's the law of averages. Although you may find it difficult to relax, you really need to take a chill pill. Find new scenery. Do something just for you. Embrace these moments from the writing world. Your creative muse will thank you.
  5. Stay positive: Easier said than done, right? A positive attitude will make life - and writing - easier. When assignments come in, tackle them immediately. It's a boost to your creative mind. I've noticed that the quicker I turn in assignments, the faster I get new assignments. At least it seems that way. Plus, not procrastinating helps me keep a positive mantra.
Writing, like the economy, make hit the skids. But by taking a proactive attitude, you can help yourself break through the tough times.

Blog and photo by LuAnn Schindler. Read more of LuAnn's work at her website.


Margo Dill said...

Thanks for this encouragement. :) You have some good ideas and I think summer is especially tough for dry spells. It seems like everyone is starting to do more now that the kids are back in school.


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