Self discipline may be the last character trait you think you’ll need as a freelance writer. It should be the first. In fact, it’s the one talent a freelance writer can’t live without. You may be under the impression that you’ll have no one to answer to but yourself. Well, that’s not exactly true. There are deadlines. Plus, if you don’t keep writing, you don’t get paid. You have to be able to sit at that keyboard and write, even when you’d rather be doing anything else. How can you do that day in and day out without caving?
Give yourself a room with a view.
You can write anywhere. Don’t shut yourself up in a dark corner. Make your writing nook the sunniest, most inviting place in the house. Get yourself a little tabletop fountain. Face the window. Better yet, write outdoors in nice weather. Some day, I plan to have a little tiny house writing cottage in the backyard. It will have a tiny little porch and a cozy chair to write in. Who needs discipline when the job is so pleasant?
Take awesome breaks.
Regular jobs involve regular breaks. So should yours. Why not make those breaks as fun as possible? Hear that ice cream truck? Run out there like you’re a kid again. Probably the best thing about being an online writer is, you can make yourself at home between assignments. No more cold metal break-room chairs for you. Hop in the recliner. Put your feet up. Slather peppermint lotion all over your feet. Take a cat nap. It might not sound very disciplined. What it will do is make it easier to be disciplined when it’s time to get back to work.
Reward yourself for good behavior.
In addition to awesome breaks, reward yourself in other ways. Just as there is no one there to monitor your work, there’s no one to give praise. Freelance writers have to learn to motivate themselves through rewards. Writing only becomes drudgery when there’s nothing to look forward to. Accomplishing some goals is a reward in itself. Others may warrant a night on the town. The nicest thing about rewarding yourself is, you know exactly what you want.
Have set hours, or not.
How do you work best? If sticking to a regular schedule is what you’re used to, go for it. If not, experiment with things like writing in front of the television at night or while watching the kids play at the park. Write whenever or wherever you choose. Why? If you have trouble with self discipline, it may be a simple matter of adjusting your schedule to fit your style.
Have what you need close at hand.
Don’t give yourself any excuse to stop writing on days when awesome breaks and rewards can’t be squeezed into the schedule. It’s way too easy to “get lost” in household chores or your favorite show when getting up for a drink of water. Make sure to have healthy snacks and drinks close by. Photos of family members can also keep you on track. Just one glance reminds you why you’re working so hard.
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