Writing is cyclical. Often you are so swamped with work that you feel like you can’t breathe. Then other times you’re stuck with nothing coming in. It’s the nature of the (beastly) creative life—especially freelance life.
Photo by Ingrid Punwani
But like the pain of childbirth, we forget. We forget the cycle, the symptoms and the pain, so that when it happens, we react like we’re never going to work again, pounding our desks like a news editor in a 1940s movie, wailing like a woman being sent off of The Bachelor—“Why me?”
I have been going through a lull, and it’s hard not only to feel productive, but also ego-wise, to not feel that it’s me, that it’s something I’ve done or not done. It’s also hard not to want to have a stiff drink before 5 p.m.So I have come up with some things that I’ve been doing in these quieter times, things that I hope will help get you through them, too.
Quiet time gives you a chance to think of the types of things you want to work on and toward. You can really home in on your goals and dreams. You can also get to work on that novel that’s been sitting in your desk drawer for “when you have some free time.” And clean out your files, get ahead on your taxes, etc.On my to-do list for a long time was redo my resumé, change my LinkedIn and Plaxo profiles, redesign my Web site, and create a new Web site about food.
Think of big projects that take a chunk of time that you don’t normally have, projects that are important to your writing career. Having that uninterrupted time without deadlines looming allowed me to really spend the time getting everything right. To not have to rush those jobs was a luxury that I didn’t take for granted, and I am really pleased with the results.
Now that you’re not swamped with deadlines, networking suddenly becomes a lot easier and pleasurable. You look forward to going out instead of it being a chore. Because you’ve been at home applying for jobs all day, you can’t wait to get out and talk with people. And have a drink. Or four.The important thing is, don’t panic. Somehow things will come together, and before you know it, you’ll be back to complaining about how much work you have and that there’s not nearly enough time to do it all. You’ll look back on this quiet time and think, “Why didn’t I enjoy it more?” and “Why didn’t I just take it easy? It’s not like I get a paid vacation anymore!”
So enjoy this time. Have that drink while you can. This won’t last forever.