Monday, January 19, 2015

The Eight Stages of Freelance Writing

I've been working as a freelance writer for about three years now.  And I 've noticed a pattern to all freelance assignments. I call it the "Eight Stages of Freelance Writing."

Stage One Panic: you get the assignment and your first thought is "how do I do this?" I have to call people I don't know and ask for their time and consideration. I have to make a coherent story out of what they tell me (and there may be more than one). I can't do this!

Stage Two Stress: you can't get a hold of the people you need to talk to. Your deadline is looming (even though it might be two weeks away) but every day you can't get a hold of the people you need to adds more and more stress. "Why don't they answer their phone or return my calls?" (This stage doesn't always happen, sometimes they answer on the first call.)

Stage Three Planning: you've got the appointment made to talk, now you plan your questions and plan how to get to them and plan what time to leave so you get there early (always get there early). This is still stressful but not nearly as stressful as Stage Two.

Stage Four Panic: you've done the interview and you're getting ready to write the story. But how do you turn your pages of scribbled notes into a coherent, interesting to read story? What do you use to "hook" the reader? How do you get this past your editor who knows you're a fraud?

Stage Five Work: you write the story, it takes hours and you flip back and forth through your notes to make sure you include every important or interesting point.  You're too busy now for panic or stress, it's just work, but it's work you love.

Stage Six Confidence: It's done, it's proofread, and it's good (you think). You feel good about your accomplishment.

Stage Seven Panic: you send it in to the editor and don't hear anything back. You think they must have hated it and will never hire you again.

Stage Eight Satisfaction: the editor publishes the story and you get a check. You're happy, satisfied, and looking forward to the next assignment so you can return to Stage One (which you've completely forgotten about, now).

You'll notice there are three panic stages. Yes, I spend a lot of time in panic and stress. But when you see your byline it's so satisfying. And the money helps, too.

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