Thoughts on my first week of freelancing

Thanks to all the people who had great suggestions for transitioning to freelancer. A common theme is "get where people are where you can still work" and I think that’s exactly what I need to do. I think I’m going to start going to the library even more often, and my friend Howard of Schlock Mercenary is going to take me down to a game store called the Dragon’s Keep next week where he works many days. My friend Janci writes down there a lot of the time, as well, and it might be a good place to work at least occasionally.

I didn’t work much this week, deliberately. I allowed myself to sleep a lot, to try to let the sinus infection go away, and to organize. But next week I have two full books to edit, so my plate is filling up. If anyone here has a lead on more freelancing to fill my calendar with, I’m all ears. I’m also thinking about talking with the local universities about teaching a children’s literature course. The semester is start
ing right now but maybe next semester it might fill a need, even an unknown one (there are so many children’s writers and potential children’s writers in Utah). BYU offers several writing for young readers classes, but the only literature-based children’s lit class that was offered when I was an undergrad was in the elementary education department. I believe they now offer a YA class in the English dept, but I’m not sure if they have a survey class. Makes me wonder. (Except that BYU requires its adjuncts to volunteer their time, so that’s not really a think I’m ready for, I think. UVU, the other college here, might be a better option.)

As for next week, the agenda is to work on the two books I have on my schedule, then reserve a couple hours a day to get writing on my work in progress, which I’ve been working on in various iterations since 2000. I’m going to finish a first draft before I finish freelancing, and hopefully finish enough drafts and polishing that it will be ready to submit. But small goals first: finish a first draft. I’m a good 1/3 of the way through; I just need to get back in the swing of the story and really FINISH it!

So, some bulleted points on freelancing, combining your advice and my experience this week:

  • Find a workspace that allows you to concentrate–whether a library full of patrons or an uncluttered home office (still working on the latter)
  • Set deadlines for yourself, even if the client hasn’t set a deadline
  • Separate work and home space–feel like you’re "going to work" in your office
  • Set a daily schedule for yourself
  • Be proactive in procuring work–don’t be afraid to mention your new job to professional connections
  • Be willing  be eclectic–sometimes the best-paying work won’t come in the field you normally devote yourself to. Naturopathic publishing may not be anywhere near children’s literature, but then, neither were industrial electrical motors, and they got me my start in professional publishing–and paid the bills while doing so. This frees up energy to work on your own personal projects, too.

Any other bullet points you’d add?