Freelance Writers: How to Stay Focused on Developing Your Writing Career

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One question I hear over and over again from the writing students I coach is,
“How do I get focused and stay that way?”

That’s a good question. Even seasoned professional freelancers have trouble
staying focused from time to time. And they usually find their writing careers
start to suffer when that happens.

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Here are some tips for getting focused on developing your freelance writing
career and staying that way:

1. Brainstorm for a few minutes and make a list of all the things you like to
write about. Once you’ve got several things on your list, narrow the list down to
just your top two areas of interest. Stick with these two areas or topics for
awhile. Any writing or research activities that don’t come within these two
areas of focus should be set aside – for now.

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2. Every Sunday evening, or Monday morning, sketch out your marketing plan
for the week. And remember, keep your two areas of interest in mind when
you do this. Only put things on your marketing plan for the week that relate to
your two areas of interest. If you’ve decided you love to write about parenting,
for example, but you’d like to finish that novel you started years ago, don’t
even think about the novel right now. Instead, focus on the kinds of parenting
articles you want to write. Start studying the different parenting publications
you find at your local bookstore or library to get a feel for the kinds of articles
they publish. Then, get busy and write some queries to a few of these markets.

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3. Start small. Make just a few simple changes in your life that give your writing
priority. For example, if you’re trying to develop a freelance career while still
holding down a full time job, don’t overwork yourself. You’ll only end up
frustrated and disappointed. However, do plan on structuring your days to give
yourself at least 15 to 30 minutes EACH day to write queries or articles,
research markets, or study books about writing techniques. Too many people
think they have to allocate huge amounts of time in order to get a writing
career started. And, since they don’t have huge amounts of time available for
writing, they don’t write at all, so they never develop the freelance writing
career of their dreams.

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However, if you decide you absolutely MUST write for at least 15 minutes, every
single day, and you stick to that, soon you’ll see some big improvements in
your writing and you’ll also begin to feel more in control of your life. It doesn’t
matter when you schedule the 15 to 30 minutes. It could be in the mornings,
in the evenings, or on your lunch hour at work. The important thing is, just do

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4. Part of your weekly marketing plan should include how you will network with
other businesses and other writers each week. Don’t neglect this part of the
marketing plan. Even if the only way you network with other writers is through
a listserv or private email with another writer, make sure you do this each and
every week. Contact with other writers will keep your passion for writing alive,
even when the pressures of work and family threaten to make you lose focus.
And networking with other business people just might result in a few writing

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5. Have fun with your writing. Don’t turn it into just another chore. If you do,
chances are you’ll give up on the idea of freelance writing very quickly. And, if
that happens, you’ll just feel disappointed in yourself again for failing to follow
through on your dream.

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Try all of the above tips for awhile. Then – if you find you can’t manage to stay
focused, or develop a marketing plan each and every week, or actually write
queries or articles to submit to publishers – hire a writing coach. A good coach
can keep you focused, will help you improve your writing skills, and will teach
you insider tricks to marketing your work.

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Suzanne Lieurance is a freelance writer, children’s author, and “the working
writer’s coach.” Visit her website at to find
out how to get her two free e-books for writers, or check out her blog at for more coaching tips and
learn how to get your free copy of THE WORKING WRITERS MARKETING PLAN.

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