Thursday, June 23, 2011

Putting out fires vs. Growing your forest

When I was Gainfully Employed in sales/marketing/training, on any given day I could have made more calls, come up with another way to promote my products, etc. But as long as I was on track to meet my goals, I could almost always leave at 5:00 to pursue other activities. I didn’t work weekends.

Freelancers rarely control their work flow. Even when you’re already swamped with assignments, most GU don’t want to say no when another opportunity comes up at the last minute.

--don’t want to disappoint a client.
--aren’t on salary and probably want the $.
--don’t know when the next job will come in and so don’t want to miss out on this one.

Example: I already had a full day of work planned plus somewhere I’d agreed to be at 2:00. But at 3:00 the day before, an agent called to ask if I was available to do a VO job in the suburbs for a client I’d worked with before. Of course I want to book work with my agent and keep returning clients. I said yes; she confirmed around a half hour later. I rearranged my schedule.

It’s wonderful to have so much work; I feel very fortunate. But when GU are so occupied with what’s on their plates and meeting deadlines (putting out fires), finding creative energy and making time to move forward on our own projects such as books in progress and submitting or self-publishing completed ones (growing your forest) can be a challenge. Marketing and client relationship building often takes a back seat. Though we want to do these things and they need to be done, we may put them off because there's no income guarantee.

One approach that's been useful is having a writing buddy or group. Find someone who's in a similar situation, then make appointments to get together and work on projects you've been wanting to finish. By helping each other, you don't end up saying, "I really want to do X. Someday."

Not only does this carve out time for individual writing, we focus more intensely than we might on our own....and keep each other in line to avoid distractions like surfing the Internet or spending too much time on Facebook. We feel great about what we accomplish.

Sometimes you make more progress with a friend's help. Sometimes even the motivated need motivation and support.

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