September 5, 2010

Beat Procrastination: Accomplish Your Freelance Writing Goals

This is a guest post by Christina Crowe, author of the blog Cash Campfire | Earn Online Income.


Do you wake up every morning and struggle to make your way to the keyboard? Are you always putting your writing tasks aside for later, only to not get to them? Maybe you have a clear set of freelance writing goals outlined, but they never seem to get accomplished. Maybe you don’t have a set of goals and just write blindly day after day, not knowing what you’ll get done by the end of the day.

Motivation to make money can come at odd hours, and sometimes it doesn’t come at all. Dedication is a necessity in any freelance writing career. Writing requires determination, so what do you do if you don’t have any? Is your writing career destined to fail? Do you give up hope? Leave your work to rot and dry out in the sun? Or do you keep going, dreading each time you have to press down another computer key?

Well, you don’t have to dread. You can acquire that same spark of excitement that first made you take on freelance writing. All it takes is a few tugs and pulls in the right direction. Can you taste it? Good. Soon you’ll find that spark within reach.

Discover When You’re Most Productive

Everyone has a certain time of the day when they’re able to get more work done and accomplish more freelance writing goals. My time is when I feel most energized - in the morning. Your time might be late at night or in the evening. Whatever the case, find out when you’re most productive and try to get the most work done during your productive hours.

How do you discover when you’re most productive? Experiment. Figure it out through trial and error. Do you get more distracted at night? Write in the morning. Are you usually too tired at night but too groggy in the morning to work? Write in the evening. Only you can determine when your productivity is at its peak.

Often times, the time when you’re most productive depends on what’s happening around you. Do your children come home from school at 3pm? Work before 3pm. Is the whole house constantly in motion throughout the day? Work when everyone goes to sleep or quiets down. Once you find out when your productivity hours are, you can develop a routine.

Decide What You Want

Determining what you want and which tasks are more important can be tricky. Many times, freelance writers go through their everyday life doing unimportant tasks because they can’t define what they want. Then, when they discover that the tasks they’ve spent all of their time doing don’t really contribute to the overall outcome of the article (what is earned), they get discouraged and motivation drops.

To avoid a loss of motivation, decide what you really want and what the end result will be if you acquire what you want. Make a list of goals that you want to achieve throughout this week. Expand the list until you hit 20 or more items. Then, make a table and divide it up into sections: Most Important, Neutral Ground and Least Important. Distribute the items in your list of goals according to how important they are to you or the overall outcome. Every day, focus on the most important tasks first. When you start a task, try to stay focused. Don’t stop until the task is completed. At the end of every week, make a new list of goals that you want to accomplish throughout the following week. Repeat the process.

Set Up a Freelance Writing Schedule

Plan out your day by deciding which hours you want to work and which hours you want to designate for breaks. You’ve already determined what time you’re most productive, so a good tactic would be to work during those hours, with breaks in between, and leave the rest of the day to do as you wish. You can also make a mental note to take a short break after you write a specific number of articles. When determining how many breaks you want to have and when, decide how long you want your breaks to be. A good length is generally 15 to 30 minutes.

Don’t forget to leave time for meals and chores. Make sure all scheduled events (work, breaks, meals and chores) are proportionate to one another, so that you don’t have too much of one thing and too little of something else. For example, don’t set a lot of time to write and then little time to rest. If you go this route, you’ll burn out faster and not get any writing done at all. Keep your time balanced.

Get Inspired

Motivation is the key to success as a freelance writer. If you’re not motivated, it will be more difficult to write and you’re more likely to procrastinate. Get inspired by keeping track of what other freelance writers have done to become successful, calculating how much money you might earn if you do get that article written and talking to other freelance writers in your industry.

A recommended tactic that has helped me is to invest in various books on writing web content. Every so often, read a chapter of the book and you’ll notice an increase in how often you write. An alternative to books is inspirational blogs on writing. If you write more about certain topics, try reading blogs devoted to that topic.

For more inspiration ideas, read my article Finding Motivation: How to Adapt a Routine.

Break Up Article Tasks

Is an article difficult to write? Break it up! Instead of diving right into an article, plan it out. Think carefully about what title and subheadings you want to use for your article. Then, when you’re writing the content, the article will be a lot easier to work with because you’ll only have to worry about the introduction and what to write under each subheading.

Track Your Progress

Did you meet a milestone? Write it down! Better yet, make a graph. For example: If you want to make, say, $500 in one month from a specific residual income stream, create a horizontal bar and make a number line on the bottom ($50, $100, $150 … $400, $450, $500) that you’ll use to track your progress. You can view an example of this on my article Finding Motivation: How to Adapt a Routine. Each time you hit a $50 mark, fill up the bar to that point. When you make it to $1,000, reward yourself! I’ll talk about this later on.

To help track your progress, determine how much money you make (on average) per article per month. To do this, divide the total number of articles you’ve already written for a particular content website by the amount of money you’ve made last month. The resulting number will show you how much money you generally make per article. Calculate how many more articles you would have to write in order to meet your income goal. While you write, keep this number in mind and use this number as a basis to determine how many more articles you need to write for the current month.

Reward Yourself

When you accomplish a goal, don’t just forget about your accomplishment and keep on writing. Reward yourself! Go out to eat. Buy yourself a large screen TV. Take a day off. Play in the mud. Anything! Just make sure you acknowledge that accomplishment and reward yourself with something special. Don’t go over-the-top with the reward, but don’t congratulate yourself with something meager either. The reward has to be worth the effort you put into achieving it. It has to be great enough to get you excited, but low enough so that you don’t go altogether broke.

Tight on money? Heck, you don’t even have to use your money! As a reward, spend time with friends, play catch with your son or curl up on the couch and watch a movie with your husband.

If you want to go all-out, give yourself extravagant yearly rewards instead of rewarding yourself monthly. If you want to go this route, I suggest taking two sheets of paper and dividing each sheet up into 6 sections. Each section represents a month (number the months if you prefer). At the end of each month, list your goals for the upcoming month in the designated section. If you achieve all the goals in any given month, place a sticker on the top right hand corner (yes, you can re-live kindergarten again!). At the end of the year, if over 85% of the year has stickers, celebrate by traveling somewhere special, buying yourself that high-tech laptop you’ve always wanted (something I would do), going to an amusement park or whatever your heart desires. However, it’s imperative that you don’t calculate how many months 85% of the year is UNTIL the end of the year. If you do the math before then, that number will be in the back of your mind every time you write and you might intentionally not achieve a goal because that month may not “count” towards the reward.

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  1. Thanks, Brian, for publishing my guest post. It has been a pleasure to write, and I hope your readers find it even more enjoyable to read.

    I also look forward to answering any questions your readers have in the comment section.

  2. Thanks so much for your quality post Christina!

    Procrastination and low work ethic are some of the hardest habits to break but they are the most worth it to break as they are the walls separate every writer from success.

    I persoanlly make goals for myself all the time and I read for inspiration all the time too - whatever helps to improve my desire to get back to work is worth it. The harder you work today the less you have to work tomorrow is what I always try to remind myself.

    Thanks for your post.


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