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This post comes from Gina Horkey, who recently quit her day job to start her own freelance writing business. She shares more of her journey on her blog, HorkeyHandbook.com.
I’ve wanted to be a published author FOREVER. And this is something that recently came true, which you can read about here! It was something that like a lot of others, I was told I was good at growing up.
I would write essays for students and began imagining the lifestyle of being a writer would appeal to me. I don’t know what you thought of as you daydreamed about the perfect writing day, but here is mine:
I awaken in the morning to the birds chirping outside my open bedroom window refreshed and ready to take on the day. I don’t feel rushed, as there’s really no place to be or schedule to keep. I brew some specialty coffee and grab a cup to take with me to my sun porch, where I sit sipping and pondering the brilliant words that will shape into an amazing story just waiting to be keyed into my open Word document.
I work furiously for several hours, as ideas and stories just pour out of my brain onto the page. I come up for air, realize I’m hungry and take a break for lunch. The rest of the afternoon is spent alternating between more writing, a run, phone calls to my publishing team, and returning emails to fans. There’s lots of silence, unless I feel the urge to play some music in the background.
What reality looks like as a writer
In reality, here’s what a freelance writer’s day really looks like:
After a fitful night’s sleep due to a teething baby, I’m awakened by the creak of my toddler’s bedroom door. I get up and put him back to bed as it’s 5 o’clock in the morning and pray he goes back to sleep.
I hit snooze twice on my cell phone alarm (which is set to vibrate, so as not to wake my sleeping husband or the baby that’s now actually asleep) to make sure he does and drag my tired butt out of bed in order to get some work done before the kids wake up for the day.
I grab my coffee (that I thankfully remembered to set on auto brew the night before) and creep downstairs as quietly as possible. I resist checking email or opening any internet browsers, as I know how easily the time can slip away.
I try to clear the cobwebs from my head and think of intelligent & thoughtful post ideas. I write, re-read, edit and go through the cycle again. I question my writing ability and if I’m crazy for pursuing this goal that I can’t seem to let die.
I remember the above imagined writer’s lifestyle and think there must be a happy medium between the two. There’s a reason that I’m sacrificing sleep to pursue this dream.
I cross my fingers that what I’ve written is worth reading, hit publish and it’s time for breakfast.
After eating, I get ready while trying to entertain kids that just HAVE to be in the bathroom with me at all times. We all put arms in for our family’s daily cheer of, “BEST DAY EVER!” and it’s off to the office to work another day. Rinse, cycle, repeat.
My life is far from glamorous, but reality rarely is. Each day holds beautiful moments and my perseverance brings me one step closer to living out my dream of writing for a living and being able to live a virtual lifestyle. The time’s going to pass anyway, I might as well dream big & see where it’ll take me.
I started seriously pursuing freelance writing in April of this year. I’m happy to say that my work has been featured twice on The Huffington Post and I’ve managed a handful of paid writing gigs.
Make your freelance writing dreams come true
I spent the months of April and May creating a brand, researching my little heart out and trying to connect with other experts in the business more seasoned than I.
Here are some of my best tips to get started and gain momentum in your own freelance writing career:
1. Wake up early, stay up late and/or work weekends
If you’re pursuing freelance writing (or any other passion you’re looking to turn into your main means of income), likely you’ll need to get your new business started as a side hustle at first. I write best in the mornings, so setting my alarm for 5am is my go to move for getting an hour or two of writing in before work.
I’ve also had to work after the kids were in bed and on weekends in order to get some paid projects completed. Since they’re paid, I’m not complaining!
2. Go somewhere you like to work
Right now I’m working from a coffee shop about 10 miles from my house. I have coffee and wifi at home, but there are also two very cute and not so little distractions there as well. There’s also a coffee shop closer to home, but I like this place and it puts me in the mood to work and get things done!
3. Hire a babysitter
If you’re a mommy (or daddy) and trying to pursue your goals, bite the bullet and hire a babysitter from time to time, so you have time to work on your new business. It may not be your full-time gig, but it won’t ever be if you can’t find time to work on it.
4. Treat writing time as if you’re getting paid to do it
This is one of the best tips I’ve learned and one that makes me way more productive when I’m mindful of it. If I sit down to write for 3 hours and I’m treating it like I’m getting paid to do it (and now usually I am!), then I’m focused on the task at hand.
I keep a list of current articles and have a “hit list” for when I’m working. Posts are listed in order of importance and deadline and I start at the top and work my way down. This helps to keep me on task and off of social media!
I went from wanting to writing novels (for fun) to getting paid for non-fiction content all in a couple of months. And now I’m making more than $4,000 a month from my freelance writing business.
This is just the start of my freelance writing career and although I have times of increased doubt and insecurity, I really enjoy searching out new opportunities, sending pitches and getting emails offering me work or just feedback in order to grow.
If you want to become a freelancer and are committed to doing the work, I believe you can make things happen too! Learn more about Gina’s new course, 30 Days or Less to Freelance Writing Success, and how you can get paid to write.
If you’re a writer, what does your imagined perfect writing day look like? How does that compare to reality?