Tag Archives: freelance writer

Managing Your Workload: Take a Self-Imposed Vacation

I’m taking a vacation this week.

Well, actually I’ll be right here in my home. But I’m going to pretend that I’m on vacation…with respect to this blog, at least.

You see, among the many different slashes I wear in my current life as a freelance writer, one of them is novelist. OK, that’s not quite right. Why don’t we say “aspiring novelist”? (I’ll feel better.)

You see, I have the novel written. I just that haven’t sold it. And in order to do that, I need to clear a couple of days in my schedule to send out the draft to the appropriate people. I know who those people are (some call them agents), and I know which ones I want to send it to. I even have all the materials ready. So I just need to sit down, go through the list, figure out who needs what, and then do some photocopying and stapling and standing in line at the post office. (If it isn’t on strike…).

In short: I need to put the rubber to the road and just do it, in the immortal words of Nike.

Which takes…time. And that’s something I don’t have a lot of because I’m, well, blogging. (She said, fully aware that she was blogging about not blogging. What can I say? Old habits die hard…)

It’s really hard for me to take time off from this blog, mostly because I love it, and partly because – as someone with a super-ego that even Freud would find daunting – I feel that I *should* be blogging (unless I’m on vacation).

So I decided to tell myself that I am on vacation. One of the many things I’ve learned from my beloved life coach is that in order to change your behavior, you need to change your expectations. She always gives me the example of the “sick day.” When you’re sick, you don’t expect yourself to get as much done. You go easy on yourself. Similarly, when you’re on vacation, you don’t bring work along with you (hopefully). You understand that the point of the holiday is precisely to stop working for awhile.

So I’m going to put myself on a self-imposed vacation, during which time I am going to do my very best to send my novel out to ten more agents. Because we all know that the secret of being a writer is persistence. Sometimes, that’s about forcing yourself to sit down at the computer and bang out those 1000 words. Sometimes, it’s just about sitting down, period. That’s not my problem right now. My problem is committing myself to selling the book that I wrote. And making the time to let that happen.

So good-bye. And wish me well. Feel free to imagine me wherever you’d like…Tahiti? Iceland? The Galapagos?

See you next week.

Image: My Feet in a Paradisiac Beach by Princess Cy via Flickr under a Creative Commons License.

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Tips For Adulthood: How To Manage Your Title

Every Wednesday I offer tips for adulthood.

One of the biggest quandaries we face in adulthood is what to call ourselves.

This is true for our professional lives — some jobs come with a built-in title (e.g. Dr.), some don’t. It’s also true in our personal lives – should my son’s six year old’s friend call me by my first name or by Mrs. X? And what if I’m not a “Mrs.”?

As a freelance writer, I’ve struggled with the whole title thing for a long time (not to mention what my last name is.)

So here are five tips for how to manage titles in adulthood:

1. Ms., Mrs. and Miss are all ok. As Nancy Gibbs pointed out in a recent article in Time Magazine, one of the great triumphs of second-wave feminism was that women obtained a title – “Ms.” – that didn’t identify them by their marital status. But now that we’ve won that battle, many women (myself included) don’t really care what they’re called, and revel in the multiple identities afforded by Ms., Miss or Mrs. Be careful, however. Some people are very sensitive about these things. I’ll never forget a grumpy senior colleague addressing a young, fellow co-worker as “Missy” many years ago. She responded: “That’s ‘Ms.’ to you, Sir.” You said it, sister!

2. Madam is not ok. For reasons that elude me, Brits continue to use the term “Madam” to refer to married women. I mean, I know the English like to sound formal and all that, but seriously…Madam? What, do I look like I run a brothel?

3. Freelance Writers are now Professional Entrepreneurs. In her blog WordCount, Michelle Rafter argues that freelance writers in today’s world are performing many different tasks across many different industries, including writing, copyediting and web content. And because journalism is morphing so rapidly into…something else, freelance writers must also do a ton of self-promotion. Thus, they now resemble entrepreneurs much more than just plain old “writers.” To which I say, Hallelujah! You mean I don’t have to describe myself as a writer/journalist/blogger anymore? Bring it on, baby.

4. Calling yourself a “Dr.” may be unnecessary. I have a Ph.D. But whenever someone addressed me as “Dr.” back when I was still a practicing academic, I always found myself turning around to see if there was a doctor in the house. It’s a personal thing, of course, and some people like the honorific. But for me the term “Dr.” should be reserved for those who wear a stethoscope around their necks and write prescriptions.* (*Unless you’re trying to do research in Mexico, in which case I’d mine that PhD as much as you can or you won’t get the time of day. Trust me.)

5. When in doubt, buy a title. When the school nurse at my son’s new school revealed that she was actually a Lady, I was momentarily flummoxed. What on earth should I call her? (I tried writing a letter to her and the co-Matron (old-fashioned term for nurse, speaking of titles) which read “Dear Ladies,” but that didn’t seem quite right.) But then a friend of mine told me that you could actually purchase titles on line. Yes, you, too can become a Lord or Lady for a mere pittance. Who said feudalism was dead?

I remain your humble servant, Herr Lady Dr. Ms.Delia, professional entrepreneur.


While we’re on the subject of freelance writing, if you haven’t checked out Susan Johnston’s Urban Muse blog, it is well worth a visit. Susan provides incredibly handy writing and publishing tips with a sunny, upbeat tone. I’m a regular.

Image: My Doctoring Toolz by Churl via Flickr under a Creative Commons license.

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