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How To Get Over The Paranoia Of Freelance Writing
by Eve Menezes Cunningham

Almost every book, course, workshop and conversation will warn you about the feast and famine nature of a world without regular paychecks. But, as with anything, the more you focus on the negatives, the bigger they become. These simple tips will help you reign in your fears and blossom.

Worry 1 - What if my best efforts in marketing aren't enough?

Remember you're a writer. Most editors and publishers prefer written contact (email or letter) so you're at a huge advantage. I often get my clients to write an overblown sales letter. In this letter, they have to be completely arrogant and declare themselves to be the best writer ever. They blow their own trumpet so hard their cheeks hurt and while no one but them will ever read it, their outrageousness fires them up.

Paul, a freelance travel writer, says: "When I read mine back, I was surprised that although the tone was completely inappropriate, I hadn't lied at all. I toned it down to suit the publication and felt really good about sending it off. I haven't heard anything yet but each time I think about it, I smile. I've written a lot that I'm really proud of and this helped me to remember to highlight my accomplishments for editors more."

Worry 2 - What if I'm not good enough?

If you don't believe you're good enough, no one else will. You need to find a way to boost your confidence enough to get you going. The best idea is to limit negative thoughts quickly. When the little voice surfaces, instead of believing it without question, investigate its veracity: Who does it sound like? A critical parent or childhood teacher? A former boss? Yourself but meaner?

If it has too much authority, play around with it. Tell yourself "You're no good!" using Bart Simpson or Donald Duck's voice. All of a sudden, you'll realize that the voice that's been causing you so much distress has no authority. Practice until you silence it for good.

Liz, an experienced freelance health writer says, "When I didn't hear back from editors who'd commissioned me, I'd want to assume they loved it but kept worrying that endless rewrites would be needed and that they'd never want to work with me again. When I gave "them" silly voices, like my next door neighbor’s little dog, I realized that I was tying myself in knots for no reason at all. Sure, sometimes, things need a little more work but I no longer anticipate the worst."

Worry 3 - What if these late payers never pay me? What if no one ever pays me again?

Again, this kind of thought process is rarely helpful. Chasing overdue payment is rarely a pleasure but by taking as much of the emotion out of your polite but firm reminder emails and phone calls, you'll find yourself less affected by it. Set aside an hour each week to make these calls / send out emails and give yourself a reward afterwards.

As you gain experience, you'll learn which markets are most reliable, lucrative and enjoyable to write for saving lots of energy. Go to writers' networking events and talk to your colleagues. Who do they write for? What are they like to work with?

Kate says, "I've only been freelance for a few weeks and the best advice I've had so far was to meet other writers. I've been going to one or two events each week and although it doesn't feel like work, I've learned more about how people have chased payment, got great writing gigs and enjoyed the freelance life than I could have imagined. My cheeks ache from laughing at some of the stories, like the guy who sent a friend of his (in sweaty cycling gear) to pick up a very overdue check. It was produced very swiftly to get him out of the posh reception. I've only had to chase one publication so far but the sweaty cyclist image made me feel less alone and I didn't find it as daunting as I'd expected."

© Copyright 2006, Eve Menezes Cunningham

Eve Menezes Cunningham is a UK based freelance writer and life coach / business coach / NLP Practitioner specializing in helping writers through workshops and individual online and telephone coaching. Please visit www.CoachingWriters.co.uk to sign up for your FREE newsletter.

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