Those Dreaded In-Between Times!

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This morning while sipping our coffee in the back yard, I was describing my latest writing project to my husband. After I had yammered on a bit (not sure if “yammered” is a real word but it feels right anyway), he said,

“You really do enjoy it, don’t you?”

Meaning the whole process of writing and rewriting an article or blog post for a website. I’d just told him about a back-to-school themed article I was writing for a parenting website. In order to round it out with facts and not just opinion, I had sent it to a former elementary school teacher for her input and reaction. It was returned to me with favorable comments and a few additions and corrections that inspired me and made me even more enthused about the project!

My answer was that yes, I do enjoy the process…once I have the idea for a piece. BUT, I hate the in-between time. There is a wonderful and “high” feeling upon the completion and acceptance of a piece of work submitted. I celebrate by plastering my good news all over Facebook and Pinterest for all to see. But it is closely followed by the question of what to do next for a client or for my own websites.

I do not enjoy the wandering mind and staring aimlessly out the window, trying to grab a deep thought or whimsical social comment to write about. While watching television, browsing the Internet or watching my dog be a dog, my mind is constantly looking for a subject or a “hook” that will grab a reader’s attention for a minute or two.

There is always this worry that I may have already used up all of my ideas and creativity. I know it is not true. Fresh ideas are out there and my imagination is being renewed every day, but those in-between moments when it feels like I have said all that I can say, those are not fun at all. I told my husband this and we agreed that song writers, painters and poets probably all suffer from the same concern. He used to be a full-time pastor and he recalled the difficult times in-between sermons when he wondered if more inspiration would come for the next Sunday.

A writer needs down time in order for creativity to recharge itself. Sitting in my house staring at the wall only brings frustration and if a deadline is near, panic. By “down time” I mean time spent resting or doing an activity that is not staring at a blank screen. Most of my ideas come while I am up and busy or out driving on an errand. During the night, ideas will arrive and I have a pen and tablet near my bed for that purpose. (De-coding what I have scribbled during the night is another interesting project!)

Since creating this official “Writer’s Website”  in December of 2012, with no clue about what I was doing, I now have three consistent clients that I provide articles and blog posts for each week. I was hired by these clients by responding to their job ads online (Write Jobs is a great place!) and it was very helpful to be able to point them to this website. Of course, I also included writing samples and whatever they requested, but this site gave me confidence and a sense of authority in this area. And I continue to respond to job ads every week, it is just a part of being a freelance writer.

I love what I am doing as a freelance writer. The pay is terrible, but I am in the beginning stages and still working to find my writing rhythm each week. Freelance writing includes a great deal of careful administration duties that are very important. I love a good graph or chart full of details about articles going out and payments coming in! As long as those dreaded in-between times do not stretch out too long, I will be just fine!

Keep writing!,

Susie

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I Wrote a Pitch and They Liked it!!

Layla, my writing buddy.
Layla, my writing buddy.

Did you silently sing that title to the tune of Katy Perry’s “I Kissed a Girl and I Liked It”? Good, that’s how it sounded in my head too. But my pitch had nothing to do with Cherry Chap Stick (or kissing).

On this journey as a freelance writer who really would rather not be so “free”, I have read countless articles about how to sell myself to potential clients, agents and publishers. We are supposed to come up with great new ways to express our ideas and the goals of our clients, in words that will catch the attention of the reader.

When we have a new idea, we get to ‘pitch’ it to our client or potential client. I think that is one of my favorite parts of watching the Mad Men series. I love the tension in the room as the ad men and women do their best to convince the client that they have an awesome and amazing idea for their next commercial or print ad.

I am still giddy about a recent small success in this area. I say it is small because it really is. The pay is low and my idea did not increase the pay at all…BUT my idea did turn the uninteresting writing job into one that I enjoy and smile about now. So that’s a huge plus, right? Here is how it happened…

I was recently hired by a pet supply company to write for their website blog for a small payment on each post. They have published 3 or 4 of my informational/educational style blog posts so far and that was fine. It is a business website and I sent them articles with little or no personality showing through because that is what they asked for. I have written hundreds (yes hundreds) of articles in this style for businesses over the last 2½ years. It is simply a matter of finding the subject, doing some research and pulling it all together in a neat little package.

But then one night I was looking for some bedtime reading because I’d finished my pile of library books. I had shelved a bunch of books from my mom’s collection after she passed away 2 years ago and among them was “Marley & Me” by John Grogan. I had not seen the movie that was made from the book, (I don’t think) and it was not on my “musty read” book list because I figured it would be too sweet and syrupy. I pulled the book from the shelf and found that my mom had inserted a newspaper clipping inside the front cover. It was a book review and interview with the writer of “Marley & Me”. Something about his picture and the article made me want to give the book a try and I ended up reading over half the story by the time my eyes were too sleepy to stay awake.

I loved the personal and natural way the writer described his life with his crazy, misbehaving dog. It made me thankful for my silly dog Layla, also a Labrador mix, and his experiences felt very familiar in many ways.

Sometime during the night I came awake with the thought that I could write a different style of pet blog for my pet supply client that could attract more readers if it was personal and real, like the book I was reading. I loved writing about my dog on my own blog once in a while, but had to remind myself not to go overboard and get my readers tired of dog stories. This would be so fun, to be able to write my own true experiences in a creative way and be paid for it! Could it work?

I did not know if the business would care for this idea at all. They may not think that it would fit them or be professional enough for a business product website. I wouldn’t blame them at all. Who needs a mushy “I love my puppy” blog on a successful pet supply website?

Then I did something totally uncharacteristic for me…The very next morning, without over-thinking it and talking myself out of it, I wrote up a sales pitch for the idea. I reminded my client that they hired me to write articles and blog posts that would bring customers to the website so that they would stay and buy pet products. I explained my idea and said that I could include links within the posts that would lead the readers back to the products they sell. I told them that dog lovers and bloggers are very loyal readers who would return again and again if they connected with my stories. I would use search-engine-optimized-key words that would pop up when online users were looking for the items they sell. I even told them that this style of blog would add some needed warmth and personality to their website. (Yikes!) I added a sample post as an attachment. I also mentioned that I would totally understand if they thought it might not be right for them. And then I hit “Send”. Gulp.

They liked it! I wrote a pitch and they liked it! My new version of the blog went live this last week and I am still smiling big about it! It brought the website lots of comments, thanks to my great writer-friends and Facebooking friends! No, it is not going to make me any more money than the original job description and I will still do some of the posts in the informational/educational style….but, there is something about having an idea and putting it out there and be rewarded with the freedom to pursue it! One of my first goals as a young person was to write a regular newspaper column like Erma Bombeck, and this comes pretty close to what that must have felt like for her.

Got an idea? Throw that pitch out there and then close your eyes and duck. Yeah, I was always one of the last to get chosen for a softball team in school.
Susie Klein – Writer