One Writer’s Journey

February 8, 2019

Freelance Essentials: Flexible Scheduling

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 1:06 am
Tags: , , ,

On Wednesday, I took a series proposal to my critique group.  Got some really helpful feedback.

Thursday morning I spent some time noodling over what changes to make.  Glance over the lesson I need to update and convert to a PDF.  Remember I’m teaching Sunday and need to reread that lesson.

11:30 am E-mail from my editor.

1:00 pm Second e-mail from editor.  New two book contact.  Deadline dead ahead!

I have to be honest.  I don’t know how you would do this job, and make money at it, if you also had a day job or an otherwise inflexible schedule.  Yes, I have family responsibilities.  And I teach Sunday school and am otherwise busy at church.  But when a job comes along, I can generally massage my schedule and work things in which is vital on days like today.

2/13.  Chapter, outline and bibliography due

3/8.  Book due.

3/18.  Chapter, outline and bibliography due

4/12.  Book due.

And somewhere not long after all of that, I will be rewriting both books.

It isn’t that your schedule has to be wide open to do this job but you do have to be willing to rearrange things.  If that stresses you out or makes you panic, this may not be the best job for you.

Given my Type-A tendencies, this is why writing about a topic I love is essential.  I need that giddy excitement to distract me from the fact that plans are changing.

I’ve actually taken a few contracts that didn’t thrill me.  Those deadlines were harder to meet and I resented having to reorganize my days to fit the work in.

This contract?  I forced myself to get some other things done Thursday before I got to work on Book #1 Friday.  This is part of the lore and legend of my family.  I come from a long line of Southern story tellers and I am ready to go!


September 2, 2016

Jump-Starting a Stalled Project

back to workYesterday, I wrote about how I choose what I work on next.  Ironically, as I saved the post, my inbox pinged.  It was a message from Redline.  Do I want to work on a new series?

This is how I pay the bills and fortunately, most of what I want to get done NOW will be pretty simple.  I’ll still have the time and energy to get started on this and that’s a good thing.  I need to have it done October 12.

But doing work-for-hire like this means that I often end up abandoning another project.  My book on puke got put aside to work on Hidden Human Computers. Fortunately, I had an editor who was enthusiastic about the project and wanted to see it by a specific date.  An enthusiastic editor plus a deadline are highly motivating.

But I’ve also had to set aside Iron Mountain.  At this point I’ve taken about 3 months off and won’t get back to it for another 6 weeks.  How do you jumpstart a project after a long absence?

Let go of the guilt.  It doesn’t matter if you’ve taken time off because of an illness, a move or a paying project, set any guilt aside.  Guilt weighs us down as creative types and as long as you are carrying it you aren’t going to make forward progress.  (Thank you to Marcia Patterson who brought this realization home to me.)

Go back to your inspiration.  This manuscript was inspired in part by two things – a tv series and a book.  Fortunately it is a tv series that my son and husband also love so I’ll have company when I sit down to watch a few episodes aver the next several weeks.  Every time I watch this program, I want to dabble in my own universe.

Do a bit of research.  It may be because I’m a hardcore nonfiction writer, but research always inspires me.  This weekend my father-in-law took me around a log cabin that he and some friends restored.  Tucked into a cupboard were the Foxfire books.  Paging through technology that is similar to what my characters use will inspire me to get back to their world.

Create a board.  I’ve already got a Pinterest board for the book. If I didn’t, I’d create one.  Instead, I’ll be adding to the one I already have, amping up my enthusiasm to spend some more time on Iron Mountain.


May 6, 2016

Deadlines Dead Ahead: Don’t Forget to take a break and recharge

air plants 2As you read this, I am most likely at the doctor’s office with my Dad.  That was the plan long before I had three deadlines on the calendar (picture book, nonfiction chapter, nonfiction outline).  To put it mildly, days like this are interesting.

Some people deal with these kinds of days by putting their butt in the desk chair and not getting up until they’re done.  Yeah, I’m not really one of those people.  The picture book and the chapter were largely done.  That just meant fine tuning them.  The outline was rough and by rough I mean frightening.  I’d work for a half hour or so but then I’d need a break because I had a problem that I had to consider.


As you may already know, I like to make things.  I like to work with my hands and have something at the end of it.  Earlier this week, I got a package with 18 air plants.  That’s more than they were supposed to send so I wasn’t really ready for them.  My solution was to hang the plants in wine glasses.

That means that my work day looks something like this —

8:30 – 9:00 rewrite 3 spreads.

9:00 – 9:10 cut the string for a holder

9:10 – 9:45 finish rewriting the picture book

9:45 – 10:00 start tying knots and stringing beads

10:00 – 10:30 outline two chapters and so on

This might not the best way for you to work.  Maybe your a butt in chair kind of person, but I’ve learned that butt in chair doesn’t work for me.  If I know I’m going to be there for 90 minutes, I can afford to goof off.  I know, I know.  Self-defeating.  But if I’m only in the chair for 20 or 30 minutes, I better get my butt in gear.

And those breaks?  I get to do something that helps me recharge my creative batteries.  In the long run, I’m much more productive when I take the time to creatively goof off.  What works best for you?


Blog at

%d bloggers like this: