The workload of a freelance writer is seldom a steady stream. It's a juggling act, for sure. Certainly, some days seem simple, while others contain complex series of appointments, interviews, assignments, and interruptions.
Oh, the interruptions!
Have you ever tried composing creative copy or conducting a teleconference, while toddlers, teens, or a Type A spouse clamored for your attention? That can happen for those who work from home offices.
Distractions can be daunting, and deadlines can quickly pile up.
What’s more, most busy freelancers try to track multiple assignments for a variety of publications or clients, just to make ends meet.
Every week, for example, I receive projects from at least three companies. Each of these includes a variety of topical columns or beats. My weekly quotas can total 50 articles or more, plus breaking news or feature assignments editors may send my way.
That doesn’t even count my blogs, publication pitches, creative writing, or special projects. And did I mention I love to write poetry and hope to produce my own version of the great American novel someday (like every other writer)?
Is it possible to juggle jobs and still stay sane?
It’s all about organization. Many writers track their writing plans online, on spreadsheets, or even on their smart phones. My system is much more low-technology than that, but it works for me.
I use three different tools to organize my work in advance.
On my desk, I have a big open wooden file box, filled with folders. Each folder is labeled with one of my column topics: from economics to etiquette, from fashion to foods, from pets to politics, and from writing tips to world news.
I also keep several accordion-style folders. Each of these contains a dozen sections, labeled for the months of the year. When I uncover upcoming news or events that pertain to one of my regular feature columns (such as holidays or horse shows), I stick a note in the appropriate folder.
Finally, I have a pile of wooden clipboards – one for each of my primary writing areas. Each week, I arrange my notes for the stories I plan to write and stick them in the clips. I stand the boards on a writing easel on my desk, and I’m ready to write.
It’s amazing how this simple tri-fold system has reduced the time-wasting rummaging for news notes and story starts that once plagued me. My notes are close at hand, and I spend the proverbial lion’s share of my desk time in actual writing mode.
Now, about those interruptions …
Juggling by Jusben
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