The life of a freelance magazine journalist can be lonely. You are running your own business, playing the role of both employer and employee. Staying productive and motivated can be tough.
Find out about seven simple steps to get you on the road to a productive and rewarding writing career.
BY PENNY TYSON
Take care of yourself
As a freelancer, there is no one to step up to the plate and take over your duties should you fall ill. You need to ensure that you are in fine fettle, so ditch those dreadful take-outs and nourish your body with wholesome homemade food. Try to get some exercise every day, even if it’s just a short walk around the neighbourhood to clear the cobwebs from your mind. Frequent mini-breaks throughout the day keep you focused too. And of course, a good night’s rest is vital.
Create a pleasant place to write
Writing in a study or an office is not essential, but keep your designated work area comfortable and free of distractions. Be organised and neat with all your requirements such as the computer, paper, dictionary, pens and pencils, close at hand. It is ideal to have a permanent workstation so that it’s not necessary to pack everything away at the end of each day.
Identify when you are most productive
Michael Stelzner, Social Media expert and author of the books Launch and Writing White Papers, suggests you “find your writing zone”. This is the time of day you do your best writing and can turn out a noteworthy word count. So only write when you are in your “zone”. Don’t allow yourself to get interrupted by emails, the internet or phone calls. Writing outside of your zone will not be productive, says Stelzner.
Set daily goals
Write a daily to-do list and set a word count goal. Break assignments down into segments, remembering to allow for research and story leads. Follow your schedule step by step and don’t move on to anything else until you have completed the task.
Have a routine
A daily routine boosts productivity. First thing in the morning do activities you enjoy such as meditating or going for a walk in the outdoors. Then perhaps do some free-writing and journaling. Seeing to the pile of dishes in the sink before you start working will also help to feel organised.
Be strict about having daily start and finishing times. When you are done for the day, close the door to the office or study and don’t be tempted to go back.
Make use of technology
Technology makes life more efficient and streamlined. Use apps like Microsoft Outlook to plan your day, diarise interviews and meet deadlines, and Nozbe, which is a well-organized productivity app available on your desktop and mobile phone. Thesaurus.com is great at finding similes and Grammarly.com checks your grammar ensuring that the article you submit is well written and without errors.
Plan some fun
And finally reward yourself for your hard work. Create some incentives to look forward to – a glass of wine in the garden at the end of the day, catch your favourite TV documentary, a meal with a friend or a round of golf – all for a job well done.
Preparation and organising are all it takes. Adding a dash of enjoyment and following these seven simple rules will make working as a freelance magazine journalist more fulfilling and positively productive.
About the author, Penny Tyson
When not behind the camera producing lifestyle television programmes, Penny Tyson looks for every opportunity to escape into the country with her family. Her new found enthusiasm for writing began with The Writers College – Writing Coach Course which she completed in 2015. Since finishing The Magazine Journalism Course, Penny is now looking forward to creating successful blogs about her other interest – DIY.