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Pull the Weeds from Your Field of Dreams
by Shirley Raye Redmond

Any professional field can become infested with its own particular trade hazards, and freelance writing is no exception. By pulling these weeds from your field of dreams, you can cultivate your creative pursuits with more productivity and profit.

1. Combat carpal tunnel syndrome and other writing-related health risks. Invest in a wrist pad, a posture chair and a good desk lamp. Get up every thirty minutes to stretch and breathe deeply. Drinking 6 to 8 glasses of water per day and consuming vitamin B6 (which is found in chicken, beef, wheat germ, fish, sunflower seeds, peas, spinach and eggs) will keep your tendons "lubricated." This will reduce irritation and inflammation.

2. Don't wallow in self-pity. Most writers, sooner or later, will suffer from rejection letter blues. Unfortunately, many beginners allow this job-related malady to hamper their productivity. Cope, don't mope! Establish a battle plan for combating the blues. Meet a fellow writer for lunch and commiserate with one another. Explore a new market for your material. Read a good book.

3. Resist the TV temptation. This is a distracting time waster for most writers working at home. Leave the television off while you're writing. Resolve to go TV-less for two or three evenings per week, and you will discover more time for writing. Increased productivity will eventually lead to increased sales.

4. Avoid postage piddling. For accurate record-keeping, buy your stamps by the hundred, and pay for them with a check. Do the same with other necessary supplies such as pens, writing tablets, envelopes and printer paper. If you don't, you'll end up losing track of how much you've actually spent and may lose out when tax time rolls around.

5. Don't delay deadlines. Set both weekly and monthly goals for yourself. Write them down and work diligently toward achieving them. Buy an appointment book and schedule time for writing, rewriting and research. Your "great expectations" will be easier to achieve when you have established in writing what they are.

6. Clean up sloppy copy. Imperfect diction, grammar, punctuation and manuscript preparation is a clear indicator to an editor that he or she is dealing with an amateur. If your queries are continually rejected, but you're convinced that your ideas are marketable, it may be the quality of your work that is the problem.

7. Don't resent revision. Lean to enjoy polishing your prose. This is the activity, which separates the winners from the losers. Use a timer, if necessary, to view your completed manuscript with a fresh, but critical eye until the buzzer goes off. The sense of power you will acquire when you learn to control and edit your prose is an exhilarating one.

8. Conquer isolationism. If you don't, it will lead to feelings of restlessness, futility and self-defeat. Find a writing buddy. Join a critique group or take a weekly writing course-anything that will keep you in social circulation. You'll find a new sense of purpose, revitalized vigor and new sources of inspiration from your fellow wordsmiths. Remember that enthusiastic success can be contagious. Expose yourself to it!

Keep in mind that successful writers actively pursue the "three ‘P’s": professionalism, persistence and productivity. These are the keys to profit. So, be prepared to handle the thorny problems that will crop up in your writing life. All freelancers are plagued by the same infestations. It's how you rid yourself of these problems that can determine just how successful you will be in your chosen field.

© Copyright 1999, Shirley Raye Redmond

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