If you’re like me, there never seems to be enough time in the day to get all your writing projects done.
Having been a journalist for 22 years, I have literally written thousands (I lost count many years ago) of articles to this day. While some have been short projects, others have surpassed a couple thousand words each.
So, while I work as a full-time content writer, I also freelance on the side.
You may wonder why I choose to arch my back and drain my eyes and brain cells in front of a computer for anywhere from eight to twelve hours a day, but it is all I’ve known since graduating college more than 20 years ago.
Avoiding Fatigue at All Costs
Whenever I tell someone I write for a living, they probably think either I’m really broke (writers are notoriously underpaid) or that I’m a news nerd, spending all his free time reading newspapers and watching television.
The facts are, while I do read papers and magazines and watch some television; I’ve become more of an online addict in recent years, always needing to have my hunger for news and information fixed.
In order to not burn out what remaining brain cells I have, I’ve had to force myself not to write at times.
Yes, I can always use the extra money I get from being a freelance reporter on the side, but is it worth my sanity? I cannot tell you how many nights I have gone to bed over the years with a deer in the headlights look from spending too much time on the computer.
So, I recently instituted a new freelance rule for myself–NO SATURDAY WRITING.
I admit at first it was hard, especially given the fact I’m on the computer writing eight hours a day at the full-time job, then heading home to write another two to three hours five nights a week, sometimes including weekends.
While the extra money from the freelance checks was/has been cool, I saw myself going down a path I didn’t like.
For me, I just had to hit the brakes and say no writing one day a week. So, I had to choose between Saturday and Sunday.
Although Sundays are generally regarded as a day of rest in many households, I opted for Saturday for several reasons:
- Saturday is my beach day during the summer and college football day during the fall.
- I sometimes try and get a jump on my Monday freelance requirements (I blog five days a week for a business site) and doing the work on Sunday nights relieves me of coming home to extra work on Mondays.
- I oftentimes will try and do some day trips on the weekends and Saturday is a good choice because if you get home late, you have the following day off.
More Advice to Keep You From Burning Out
So, if you’re in need of a little R&R time from your freelancing responsibilities, here’s some advice:
- Choose your assignments carefully and only those whose deadlines you think you can handle without interrupting a full-time job or personal activities.
- Get your work done ahead of time. I always try and set my deadline a day ahead so that I’m not left scurrying at the 25th hour. Not only will your work be better, but your stress level will thank you too.
- Utilize email to cut down on playing phone tag. I’m fortunate that much of my freelancing involves researching and not interviewing. That being said, if you have to interview a number of subjects on a regular basis, set up an email system with them so you’re not left playing phone tag all day and/or via different time zones.
- Finally, have fun with your freelance work. If you’re simply writing to earn a few extra dollars and not getting any enjoyment out of it, why are you doing it in the first place?
Freelance writing can not only bring in some extra money on the side, but it can open up doors to new experiences, new friends and an expanded portfolio.
With the right schedule, you can be free to reap the benefits freelance writing has to offer. Just avoid burning too many brain cells in the process.
Do you take a day off? Which day? What tips would you give a freelancer to keep them from burning out?
Share your answers in the comments.
Image by Bright Meadow