Part-time writing can be a tough balancing act. Family duties, volunteer commitments, and other full-time or part-time careers can often eclipse precious writing time. Looming deadlines and limited time can make it difficult to stay up on new developments in the field, and since many writers work at home, even the environment can be distracting. Here are a few ways to reclaim your writing and grow your career.
Create Space to Write
If you want to write, you will need to set aside a block of time to work on your projects or simply practice your craft. It is best to write daily if possible and to remain consistent. That means even if you don’t have a project at hand, sit down and free write or begin something new instead of surrendering that time to another activity.
If you write in your home, designate a place with limited distractions. Clean up this space and fill it with essential items that will enhance your productivity. This can include pens, pencils, reference materials specific to the writing you are doing, and encouraging notes or quotes. If you have children, roommates, or a spouse, communicate about your writing time to avoid interruption. Find a regular activity for your older children if they are home during your designated writing time. Young children will need a supervisor, possibly a spouse, neighbor, or babysitter.
Keep Track of Your Work
Create a spreadsheet with your projects, their deadlines, what you are being paid, when and where the projects are being submitted, project notes, and the contact information of the editors you are working with. This spreadsheet will look different depending on the type of writing you are doing. Its purpose is to help you keep track of your projects so that you turn in work on time and don’t have to sort through old emails for bits of information you have forgotten. Keeping it all in one place will help you to be efficient, manage your time, and look forward. Keeping track of the money you make on each project can also help you price out future projects of a similar nature.
When you maintain current contact information, it becomes easier to touch base with those who have given you work in the past. Don’t be afraid to contact these people occasionally to see if they have other writing projects. Remind them that you are available and interested in writing for their company.
Connect With Other Writers
Whenever possible, connect with other writers in your discipline. This can take the form of writing groups, associations, or conferences. Remember that networking isn’t a one way street. If you want fellow writers to recommend you when they are unavailable for a project or it is outside of their expertise, be willing to do the same.
Diversify your Portfolio
Freelance writing can be very competitive so it is worthwhile to be versatile in the kinds of writing you can do and the technology you know how to use. Retain samples, direct potential employers to your work online, keep a current resume, and be able to articulate your abilities with confidence.
Be intentional about where and how you write. Take your part time writing career seriously by effectively managing it. Your overall contract opportunities and publishing successes will improve in the long run.