Thursday, February 11, 2010

Freelancing: How to Keep Your Writing Engine Going by Harriet Hodgson

Many things in life are uncertain, but I know one thing for sure: Freelance writers are not lazy people. As a freelancer I have to watch book trends, do my own research, do my own marketing, write daily to retain my craft, and find new things to write about. There have been times when I asked myself, "Why am I doing this?" The answer is always the same, "Because I love it." Here are some of the things I do to keep my writing engine going.

1. CALL TIME OUT. When I am discouraged it usually means I have been working too hard. So I force myself to stop writing and do something completely different. Last summer I decided to knit a sweater, though I had not picked up knitting needles in decades. This summer I decided to focus on home repairs - things my husband and I had been ignoring for months.

2. GO FOR A WALK. Like many writers, I have found that walking stimulates ideas. When I start my walk I am usually thinking about my family, grandchildren, nature, or current events. I let my thoughts roam freely. At the end of my walk I have usually found a solution for my writing problem. Walking also helps me think of new article and book ideas.

3. FIND A NEW SLANT. New ideas are generated all the time, but some ideas have their time. In other words, many authors are writing about them. I wrote two books about Alzheimer's disease and, to make them different from others, I based them on my caregiving experiences with my mother. The books included many stories about my mother and I used the stories to bring research findings to life.

4. WRITE ABOUT SURPRISING TOPICS. Breaking out of your writing mold will help you to get your creative juices flowing. I used to freelance for my local newspaper and accepted assignments I never dreamed of accepting. These assignments included articles about roofing, motorcycle trends, and woodworking. Writing these articles forced me to switch my mental gears, learn about new things, and meet new people.

5. JOIN A WRITERS GROUP. Interacting with other writers will also help you to keep your freelance engine going. Since I am a health and wellness writer I belong to the Association of Health Care Journalists. I also write about grief, particularly anticipatory grief, so I belong to the Association for Death Education and Counseling. Both of these associations publish newsletters and I find them very helpful.

6. CHECK YOUR EZINEARTICLES.COM TRAFFIC. Several times a day I log onto Google to track the migration of my articles. Imagine my surprise when I saw a recent article, "Writing: Turning Your Rejections into Sales," was the feature in the June 21, 2006 issue of "Worldwide Freelance Writer." Until I saw their listing on Google I did not know the group existed. Today I subscribed to their free newsletter.

These steps work for me and I hope they work for you. Freelance work is demanding, but I like the freedom it provides. I choose the topics I want to write about, research the topics, write at home, set my own hours, and am my own boss. It's a good life.

Copyright 2006 by Harriet Hodgson

Harriet Hodgson has been a freelance nonfiction writer for 28 years. She is a member of the Association of Health Care Journalists and the Association for Death Eduation and Counseling. Her 24th book, "Smiling Through Your Tears: Anticipating Grief," written with Lois Krahn, MD, is available from A five-star review of the book is posted on Amazon. You will find another review on the American Hospice Foundation website under the "School Corner" heading.