Friday, August 2, 2013

Keeping the Wolf at Bay

Don’t kid yourself. Freelance writing is a tough business. If it’s not one thing going wrong, then it’s another. Sometimes, it’s hard to keep ahead. And keeping the wolf—no, your creditors, but depression—at bay can be daunting.

Writing is a solitary business. You can’t write with other people, but it’s those other people who can help you when times are hard or things start going downhill. So the first thing you need to do besides get your writing skills in order is find some friends. Actually, you really only need one good one, but a few occasional friends will do just as well. These may be people you used to work with, neighbors, people you’ve met online, perhaps even family members. But all of them should have one thing in common—their general interest in your writing and your welfare.

An interest in your writing doesn’t necessarily mean that they have to read everything you write. Perhaps when they call you or meet you from time to time, they might ask how things are going or what projects you’re currently working on. Discussing what you’re writing with them may even give you some new ideas.

Among your friends, you should be on the lookout for someone who is especially creative. They don’t have to be a writer, but a person who thinks creatively. Not only will this give the two of you something in common, they may be able to help you out with a difficult creative problem once in a while. And having someone creative around will keep your mind sharp.

One of the things that can drag you down is difficulty in finding work. Let’s face it, this can get anybody down. Just ask anyone who lost their job during the recent recession. But you have an advantage. As a freelance writer, you have many avenues open to you. Don’t be so narrow-minded as to think that you should only write books because that’s where the notoriety is. Become a well-rounded writer. Remember, if you can write, you can just about write anything—if you know the format.

Another depression-prone problem, related to that above, is being able to pay your bills. Make it a point to cut your costs and keep them in line so you don’t spend more than you make. And if tough times do happen, ask for help. You may at least have to find a part-time job to get you out of your financial mess.

A good depression-fighting tool is exercise. Sitting at your computer all day not only keeps your body from being in good shape, but also your mind. You don’t have to join a gym—another cost added to your already strained budget. You can go for a walk or a jog. You can life weights. You can do things around your home—cleaning, repairing, etc.

Related to exercise is good health. Get in the habit of taking a daily vitamin and perhaps Vitamin C. Eat healthy foods whenever possible—not the trendy kind, the real kind. You don’t have to shop at a health-food store to eat healthy. And you don’t have to follow any of the trendy diets out there. Just eat a balanced diet. And watch your sugar intake. For some people, the amount of sugar they ingest is directly related to their mood. While they feel good after they eat it, their mood tumbles soon afterwards.

Reward yourself for good behavior. Take a day off, or at least an afternoon, once in a while. Go somewhere and have a cup of coffee. Bring a book along to read. Relax.

Keeping all of the above in mind will not only help your mood but will aid in your writing. And isn’t that really your goal—to write the best you can and make the most of every situation.

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