Article by Wendy McCance
I had often wondered what it’s like to be a writer after working for a year or more. I have read about the struggles faced by new writers just breaking into the business and I’ve read about what it’s like to be a writer who is well-known. Do you wonder what it’s like to be a writer when you are still establishing a steady career?
This is the stage I am in. I have just hit the one-year mark. March 1, 2014 was exactly one-year working full-time in my chosen field. There are weeks where I am flooded with assignments and there are weeks where it gets rather quiet. Even when I am busy, I try to look for new clients to fill in the gaps for once my current assignments are completed.
Truthfully, I feel like I am on a roller coaster ride. I have incredible highs and frustrating lows. Let me give you an example. A few weeks back, it seemed that every client who wanted to work with me had an assignment for me. For whatever reason, all of these jobs came together within days of each other. I was also in the process of gearing up for what would be my biggest assignment in quite awhile. I was actually panicking because I wasn’t sure if I was taking on too much work. This is one of the tricky things about establishing yourself. There is uncertainty when it comes to exact start dates and how much time will really go into a project when there will be research and interviews. Needless to say, the worrying was for nothing. As often happens,some work got pushed back and a few things fell apart. It’s the nature of the business and I have been there a dozen times before.
I sorted through the work I needed to complete and then, it got quiet. I have a few clients I am working with who will have work for me within a few weeks, but the massive amount of work I had has come and gone.
I do have a few monthly jobs that are ongoing, but when you are looking to work a solid 40 hrs. or more per week, those down times can be a bit nerve-wracking.
This is the up and down feeling I face all of the time. Those down moments are when I reexamine what I am doing to get jobs. I wonder if I am doing all I can or if I might be missing a serious component to getting even more work. I had this conversation with my husband recently and he just shook his head at me. He reminded me that I go through this all the time and whenever there is a lull, something amazing tends to happen within the next few days.
When he said this, I wished he was right, but just blew off his prediction. The very next day, I got a call from a guy who wanted to interview me for a documentary. I then got a call from an old client who needed me to do some work for him. I ended the day with an opportunity to promote my blog on another popular blog. I mentioned these events to my husband and he barely seemed fazed. He just looked at me and said, “see, I told you.”
There are two important lessons that I have learned. The most valuable advice I can give is to work on promoting yourself and prospecting daily. It’s the only way to get through these quiet times. My goal is to get a steady flow of work coming my way on a daily basis. If I slack in the promoting/prospecting department, I will end up working twice as hard to get that next round of work. The other thing I am always reminding myself of is that you never know what is going on behind the scenes. The guy who asked to interview me was a person I had sent an email to on LinkedIn several months earlier about doing some writing for him. I hadn’t heard from him, but he told me, when he called that he had been following my career and watching it take off. He knew that he wanted me to be one of the people he spoke with for this film.
Amazing things do happen even when the air feels still and you are unaware of what is in motion just out of your range of sight. The more you prospect, the more these moments will appear. Just because someone might not have work for you today, you are still building a base of people who might reappear later down the road with an offer for you.
As a writer who is working to establish a steady flow of work, this is what life is like from day to day. You will have your busy times, and you will have your slow moments. The key is to trust the process, have faith in what you are doing and never give up.
To contact Wendy McCance about a writing or social media assignment, interview or speaking engagement, please email her at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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